BOSTON, JUNE 11 -- Danny Ainge had hit a 47-foot, three-point jumper at the buzzer to end the first half, for which his Boston Celtics teammates were most grateful. But when Ainge hoisted a three-point attempt early in the third quarter, all three Boston coaches jumped off the bench and began screaming, "Nooooooooo!"

Chris Ford, one of K.C. Jones' assistant coaches, remembered leaping off the Boston bench and yelling, "Danny, calm down."

Ainge, fortunately for Boston, was paying absolutely no attention. It was as if he had cotton stuffed so as not to hear anything from the bench. "Aw, you know our coaches," Ainge said. "I heard 'em screaming, 'We don't want those kind of shots.' And I said, 'If I'm open, I'm gonna take 'em.' And I'm glad I hit the next one or I'd have been on the bench."

By the time Ainge reached the bench, the Celtics were way ahead in the final seconds, and he had hit four consecutive three-point shots, seven of 11 field goal attempts in all, and scored 21 points. Ainge was only the third leading scorer for the Celtics tonight, but his long-range contribution was of vital importance in Boston's 123-108 victory over Los Angeles in Game 5 of the NBA championship series.

About every time the Lakers started to put together a comeback, there was Ainge to hit a three-pointer and knock the breath out of Los Angeles. "When L.A. was matching baskets, trying to make a move on us, they only kept falling behind farther and farther because they were trading three points for two," Jerry Sichting said.

When the Lakers scored six straight points to get within 69-60, they seemed unstoppable. Enter Ainge. Three-pointer over L.A.'s thinly disguised zone for 72-60. When A.C. Green scored on a Lakers' fast break, Ainge answered with another three-pointer, in transition.

A few moments later, after a basket by James Worthy had gotten the Lakers as close as they would get, 79-71, Los Angeles tried to do whatever it could to make sure Larry Bird, Kevin McHale or Robert Parish didn't score an easy bucket.

"I think we were doubling-up, trying to keep from giving up a layup," Green said.

No layup, all right. Ainge for three, sending the lead to 82-71. His next three-pointer -- giving him 17 points in 12 minutes 1 second -- put the Celtics up, 94-77, and the game out of reach. "When you hit two or three, it has a way of knocking the other club down," K.C. Jones said. "He did the same thing to them that Michael Cooper did to us {an NBA-record six three-pointers} in Game 2 in L.A."

Magic Johnson said, "They came, everytime, at the right time . . . Bam, he hits another one, then another one."

On each of his three-pointers, Ainge was wide open, partly because of the Lakers' obsession with stopping Bird and Parish (10 of 12 from the field), and partly because the Celtics kept moving the ball until he was open.

"If you're open," Ainge said, "it's not that difficult a shot. And I'm gonna take it every time if I'm open. I think they were so concerned with Larry it allowed me to just spot up for three. It's like football; if they take away the running game you have to go to the pass. Well, if they take away the inside game we have to go outside.

"The three-point shot is devastating. You hit a few in a row and it's a big lead so quickly. I was just feeling it and letting it go."

Ainge was just about in a trance. Even some of his teammates were amazed. "He kept nailing it," Sichting said, shaking his head. "That's what makes your confidence go up, especially in the playoffs. It wasn't a designed play or something that happened over and over. Once he made one or two, he started hanging around the line. That's how Cooper got his."

Boston's inside players -- McHale, Bird and Parish -- said thanks. "The Lakers were trying to clog the middle and left our guards open," McHale said. "Danny was shooting three-pointers like they were going out of style . . . That's the way we have to play."

Ainge feels the Celtics discovered something tonight that might be of good use against Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon in The Forum for Game 6. "We have the tendency to go to Larry and Kevin, and tonight we got into that rut," Ainge said. "I think the three-point shot is a big weapon and I'm going to keep taking it. I'm sure Cooper will keep taking it in L.A. and so will I."