Celtics, Lakers all even
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Boston Celtics evened the NBA finals with Ray Allen shredding the Lakers from the 3-point line -- and Rajon Rondo doing everything else.
Allen scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half with a record-setting 3-point shooting display, Rondo completed a triple-double down the stretch and the Celtics handed the Los Angeles Lakers their first home loss of the postseason, 103-94 Sunday night in Game 2.
Allen hit a finals-record eight 3-pointers in a dazzling effort for the Celtics, including seven before halftime. Rondo then took charge after Allen cooled down, racking up 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in his fifth playoff triple-double.
"An entire team effort," Rondo said. "Ray carried us through the first half. Second half, we got in a little slump but we stuck with it, stayed together and got a victory."
Game 3 is Tuesday night in Boston.
Kobe Bryant scored 21 points while battling more foul trouble for the Lakers, who couldn't catch up to Boston's dynamic guards in Los Angeles' first home playoff loss since last season's Western Conference finals. Pau Gasol had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, and Andrew Bynum added 21 points and six rebounds.
The teams traded the lead throughout the period, but Rondo's heady layup put the Celtics ahead for good with 3:21 to play. The play was vintage Rondo, scooting in to collect a shot blocked by Gasol and scoring before Gasol could react.
Kevin Garnett then hit a jumper, and after another possession of stifling defense, Rondo hit another jumper, celebrating with a swing of his arm in the mostly silent Staples Center.
Rondo has grown into possibly the Celtics' biggest offensive threat in these playoffs, but his 10-point fourth quarter looms among his largest achievements.
After the Lakers' whistle-plagued 102-89 victory in the opener, both teams again struggled under the weight of foul trouble. Garnett and Bryant both spent extra time on the bench, with Bryant picking up his fifth foul early in the fourth.
Garnett had just six points, and Paul Pierce never got going, scoring 10 on 2-of-11 shooting. The Celtics also struggled against the Lakers' low-post game.
With Allen and Rondo playing spectacular basketball, none of their flaws mattered much.
Allen had just 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting in the opener, never finding his rhythm after early foul trouble. He didn't even hit a 3-pointer -- but the sharpshooting veteran was just saving it up.
With his fundamentally flawless jumper snapping off his wrists in perfect form, Allen tied the finals record for a full game with seven 3-pointers in the first half. That textbook shot didn't even miss until his eighth try rimmed out in the waning moments of the half.
With his eighth 3-pointer midway through the third quarter, Allen broke the record for a full finals game he shared with Kenny Smith and Scottie Pippen -- and though he didn't hit another under tight defense, Rondo took charge.
Allen's scoring staked the Celtics to a six-point halftime lead, but the Lakers stayed in it with an inside game generating 41 free throws -- 15 more than Boston -- and strong efforts from Gasol and Bynum.
The Celtics essentially were a two-man show all night. Rondo sliced up the Los Angeles defense with slick drives after playing a tentative opener, while Allen was relentless from the perimeter, hitting his fourth, fifth and sixth 3-pointers in a two-minute span midway through the second quarter.
Bryant's vaunted defense didn't help much after switching onto Allen, and Kobe didn't even get his second field goal of the game until Allen already had 22 points. Bryant spent most of the first half's final minutes on the bench after picking up his third foul on a charging call drawn by Allen, who hit his seventh 3 late in the half.
Yet Bryant returned with a steal and a dramatic 3-pointer with two-tenths of a second left before halftime, trimming Boston's lead to a very manageable 54-48.
All four of Boston's top low-post players had four fouls apiece midway through the third quarter, largely thanks to a strong game underneath by Bynum, whose injured right knee didn't slow him on a series of slams. Allen set the finals record with his eighth 3-pointer with 4:42 left in the third.
Although the teams had an extra day off after the opener, neither coach predicted many strategic adjustments. Both focused the weekend's work on mental preparation -- the Celtics working on increased intensity after getting run off the court in Game 1, and the Lakers on consistency.
Only Boston's Doc Rivers got what he wanted, and he only got it from two players -- yet it was enough.