INGLEWOOD, CALIF., JUNE 4 -- Michael Cooper sidled up to teammate Adrian Branch several hours before tonight's game, held up his right arm and tapped his own elbow.

"He told me there was some magic in it," said Branch. "He said he was going to have a good shooting night. He said he could feel it. So I said, 'In that case, you go right ahead.' "

That Cooper did, mostly from 23 feet and beyond, to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 141-122 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the NBA finals. Cooper scored 21 points -- including a championship series record six three-point field goals -- to help the Lakers take a 2-0 lead in the series.

"The key to the game was Coop," said Lakers Coach Pat Riley. "He really opened up their defense with his three-point shooting . . . You know, I used to detest the three-point shot when all we had was Kareem {Abdul-Jabbar} and James {Worthy} as our first options on offense. But now I love it."

Cooper made four of five three-point attempts in the first half, breaking the record of three set by Scott Wedman of the Celtics in 1985, and helped turn a five-point deficit into a 19-point lead by intermission. Cooper then made the only two three-pointers he tried in the second half to break the records for field goals (four) and attempts (seven).

"I was just looking to take shots in the flow of the game," he said. "Earvin {Johnson} kept telling me, 'Put it up. Put it up.' Since the shots were falling, I saw no reason to quit."

His eight assists in the second quarter also tied the record for one period, a total later matched by Johnson in the third quarter, and he added four rebounds and three steals.

But it was the three-pointers that left the Celtics doubting and demoralized.

"Cooper's first few three-pointers really hurt," said Boston forward Larry Bird. "Up to then, I thought we were playing pretty well. But he broke things wide open."

Cooper forced the Celtics to extend their defense, making them susceptible to the fast break. Los Angeles outscored Boston on the break, 64-18, and led by as many as 24 points.

Cooper entered tonight's game in something of a slump. Although he had made 43 percent (21 of 49) in the playoffs, he had made two of his last 12 and tried only two in Game 1.

But he made three-pointers with four of his first five shots in Game 2, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with each basket.

"When that first one went in, you could see how determined he was," said Branch. "He had his good stuff tonight."

Up until this season, Cooper was known primarily for his defense. Named to either the first or second all-defensive team for seven straight years, he won the NBA's defensive player of the year award this season.

But what began as friendly games of long range H-O-R-S-E with teammates Johnson and Byron Scott has transformed Cooper into an offensive catalyst.

"A couple of years ago, that was a dead play," said Cooper of the three-point field goal. "Slowly but surely, though, Coach Riley has let us shoot it on a regular basis."

But Johnson underscored Cooper's wide range of skills.

"He's a deceiving type of player," Johnson said. "He can do it so many ways, defensively and offensively. He can make a big shot, make a steal, a block. We're just lucky to have him. If we need defense, he gives us that. If we need offense, he gives us that. Everybody is setting him up now. Even if it doesn't go in, we tell him 'Keep shooting.' "