LOS ANGELES - The Boston Celtics evened the NBA Finals with Ray Allen shredding the Lakers from the 3-point line - and Rajon Rondo doing everything else from everywhere 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 Los Angeles its first home loss of the postseason, 103-94, Sunday night in Game 2.
With his fundamentally flawless jumper snapping crisply from his wrists, Allen hit a finals-record eight 3-pointers, 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 called it. “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 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.
“It’s a disappointing loss for our ballclub, but they did a good job,” Gasol said. “They really executed and had a good game plan. We definitely need to make sure we hustle a little more. They got to the ball a lot of times quicker than we did, second-chance opportunities, loose balls. They were pursuing the ball with a little more desire.”
Allen had just 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting in the series opener, never finding his rhythm after early foul trouble. He didn’t even hit a 3-pointer in Game 1 – but the sharpshooting veteran was just saving it up.
Allen hit three 3-pointers in a two-minute span of the second quarter, looking over at his bench with a dry, what-can-I-do? smile that recalled Michael Jordan’s shrugged shoulders during his 35-point half in the 1992 finals against Portland.
Allen didn’t even miss until his eighth try rimmed out in the waning moments of the first half.
“I didn’t think it was easy, getting the 3s up in the air,” Allen said. “You look up and everybody is probably thinking, ‘How did this guy get open?’ But there’s so much going on there – big screens, misdirection plays. I thought they did everything they could to keep me from shooting 3s, (but we) worked tirelessly.”
The clubs traded the lead throughout the fourth quarter, 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 by swinging his arm in the mostly quiet Staples Center.
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.
L.A. Lakers at Boston, 6 p.m., Ch. 4 (series tied, 1-1)