LOS ANGELES, June 7 – Ray Allen buried a record eight three pointers and scored a post-season high 32 points as the Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 103-94 to even their NBA finals series at one game each.Rajon Rondo scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and also had a triple double with a game-high 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the Celtics, who are seeking their second championship title in three years.
Allen put on a shooting display Thursday that was reminiscient of Michael Jordan’s superb performance in game one of the 1992 finals opener against Portland when the former Chicago Bull had six in one half.
Allen credited his teammates for getting him the ball in situations where he could convert easily in front of a crowd of 18,997 at Staple Center arena.
"I got a couple of threes early and nothing was rushed basically," said Allen who finished eight-of-11 from the arc. "I try not to turn down a shot when I am over it.
"But the ball it bounced more in our favour. We had more energy in this game (than game one). So there were a couple of threes that the ball kind of bounced funky and we ended up getting it."
The record for three-pointers in a finals was seven, last done by Scottie Pippen in 1997.
After one of those threes Allen broke into a wide grin as he skipped his way down the court to defend against the defending champion Lakers.
"I was having that feeling of being a resilient team," he said. "When I got that three it was a sense of calmness and reward that I knew I had at that moment. It wasn’t a rushed feeling it was just good basketball."
Rondo, who is the shortest of all five Celtic starters at 6ft 1in, made some key free throws down the stretch.
The series now shifts to Boston for Tuesday’s game three. Games four and five will also be in Boston.
Pau Gasol had 25 points and eight rebounds and Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant each scored 21 points for the Lakers who suffered their first loss at home in the playoffs after nine straight wins.
Bryant, who was in foul trouble for most of the fouth quarter with five, also had six assists and five rebounds but committed five turnovers.
"It is a disappointing loss," Gasol said. "We just couldn’t convert at the end and they took advantage. They took their time and converted."
The Celtics stepped up their play from the opening tipoff in game two after a lethargic game one of the best-of-seven series.
Allen got them started by hitting the first seven free throws he attempted before missing his first one late in the second quarter.
Boston built a 29-22 lead after the first quarter then opened up a 14 point gap in the second before the Lakers cut it to just six at the half, 54-48.
Point guard Rondo took over the offence for the Celtics in the second half, stealing the ball from Bryant at one point down the stretch and finishing with four offensive rebounds.
"It has nothing to do with scoring," Bryant said. "It was all defence. We gave them some easy baskets."
For the second straight game the Celtics got into foul trouble early, including forward Kevin Garnett who had to sit for much of the first half after getting three fouls in his first five minutes of playing time.
Except for a stretch in the second the Lakers kept within striking distance. They carried the momentum over from the second quarter into the third by going on a 9-2 run early to regain the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
Gasol hit a 15 foot jump shot at 10:02 of the third to give the Lakers a 57-56 lead.