NBA Finals

Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo help Celtics get even with Lakers in 2010 NBA finals

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 7, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- Kendrick Perkins looked helplessly upward, arms spread out, as Pau Gasol sent his hook shot the opposite direction. There was no way he could get to the ball, but it was no problem for Rajon Rondo, as he swooped in for the rebound, slipped around Gasol and dipped inside for a layup.

Rondo was around for the finish, making every critical rebound and layup and serving up assists, taking over after Ray Allen's unconscious shooting from beyond the three-point line in the first half carried the Boston Celtics to a 103-94 victory in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Paul Pierce didn't score until the third quarter and Kevin Garnett made only one field goal after scoring on the first play of the game. Their entire front court, starters and reserves, were busy collecting cheap fouls and collectively getting abused by the Los Angeles Lakers' 7-foot tandem of Gasol and Andrew Bynum. But the Celtics have proven all postseason that they can win games without quality performances from one or two stars, because they can usually get it from elsewhere.

All they needed Sunday night, apparently, was Allen and Rondo. Allen scored a game-high 32 points and set two NBA records with seven first-half three-pointers and eight overall and Rondo had a triple double with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the Celtics evened the best-of-seven series, 1-1, as it heads back to Boston for Game 3 on Tuesday.

"They were both terrific," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. "Ray in the first half, when he gets into those zones. Rondo did a terrific job of finding him. He saved us in the first half. With Kevin in foul trouble, Paul struggling. We needed points and Ray gave them to us."

Allen had to feel like he was actually making his debut to the series after he scored just 12 points, missed both of his three-point attempts and was saddled with foul trouble in Game 1. Allen had 27 points at halftime and broke the record he already shared with Kenny Smith and Scottie Pippen. He was in one of those grooves, when his baseline-to-baseline sprints kept ending with open space and his textbook jump shot kept connecting with the net.

"I don't think it was easy, getting the threes up in the air," Allen said. "You look up and I'm shooting a three and everybody is probably thinking, 'How did this guy get them?' But there is so much going on, to great screens being set to misdirection plays. They were setting great screens and I was hitting shots."

Allen only made one field goal in the fourth quarter, but Rondo scored 10 points in the period. He had three consecutive layups -- including the one after Gasol's block on Perkins -- that turned a three-point deficit into a 91-90 lead with 3 minutes 20 seconds remaining. The Celtics wouldn't trail again.

"It was big for us," Rondo said. "It would be tough for us to go home and win three straight. It's possible, but it would be very tough with the defending champs. We did what we needed to do, came out here and got a split."

After scoring 30 points in Game 1 -- continuing a string of 11 30-point games in his past 12 -- Kobe Bryant was unable to find any rhythm as he was in foul trouble most of the night. He collected his fifth foul with 11:15 left in the game, when Glen "Big Baby" Davis stepped in front of him to take a charge.

Bryant returned to give the Lakers an 88-86 lead about five minutes later when Allen fouled him as he hit a hanging jumper off the glass. He gave the Lakers a 90-87 lead with another baseline jumper over Allen, but the Celtics scored the next 11 points to pull away. The Lakers wouldn't score again until Bryant hit a three-pointer with 53 seconds remaining.

"It's a series," Bryant said after finishing with 21 points and missing 12 of his 20 field goal attempts. "You don't get too high, don't get too low after a win or a loss. You just go into the next one and take care of business."

Gasol and Bynum dominated the Celtics inside. Bynum, playing despite a torn meniscus in his right knee, finished with a playoff career-high 21 points, 7 blocked shots and 6 rebounds. Gasol led the Lakers with 25 points and eight rebounds and added six blocked shots, as he eviscerated Garnett on Sunday after just severely outplaying him in Game 1. The primary storyline coming into the game was how Garnett would respond -- and it was mostly with a whimper.

Garnett scored on the first play of the game, backing down Gasol before hitting a baseline jumper, but he didn't make another shot until he hit a turnaround jumper over Ron Artest with 2:38 left in the game.

Garnett and Pierce combined to score just 14 points, but Allen came to the rescue with an incredible shooting display. The Lakers sent different defenders after him, from Shannon Brown to Artest and Bryant, but they were always a step too late. Bryant, who has a nasty history with Allen dating back to Allen's days with the Seattle SuperSonics, actually switched off Rondo to chase around Allen to no avail. Allen came around a screen and knocked down a jumper over him, smiling as he ran down the floor. At the time, Allen had outscored Bryant, 22-2.

"He was hot," Bryant said.

And now the Celtics have captured home-court advantage with three games at TD Garden.

"There's no doubt it's a blow to us to lose the home court," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said, "but we anticipated this might happen, and we're just going to have to go pick it up."

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