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Dan Shaughnessy

Quite a series of events

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By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / April 21, 2009
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Winners all around.

The Red Sox pummeled the Orioles, 12-1, in the annual Monday brunch at Fenway. The Bruins whupped the Canadiens, 4-2, to go up, 3-0, in their playoff series. More than 22,000 won the Boston Marathon by completing the 26.2-mile trip from Hopkinton to Boylston Street.

And then the perfect Boston sports day ended in perfect fashion when Ray Allen came off a pick, took a pass from Rajon Rondo, and swished a 25-foot trey with two seconds remaining to give the Celtics a stayin'-alive 118-115 victory over the fearless Chicago Bulls.

Kevin Garnett or no Kevin Garnett (the Ticket stayed on the bench for all 48 minutes of Game 2), we have a spectacular first-round series on our hands. The Bulls are giving the Celtics more trouble than the Lakers did last spring, and every Green fan knows how close the Celtics came to taking a 2-0 deficit to the land of Blagojevich.

It will be hard to match the drama of Game 2 when the series shifts to the United Center. This one featured a whopping 18 lead changes and some spectacular individual performances from the likes of Ben Gordon (42 points on an Andrew Toney night), Rondo (19 points, 12 rebounds, 16 assists, 5 steals), and Glen Davis. Big Baby played the role of Sam Jones for Boston, scoring a career-high 26 points, including multiple jumpers from beyond the foul line. It was like watching Curt Schilling stealing bases or Vince Wilfork returning punts.

But it was Allen who emerged as the man, hitting four threes in the final period, scoring 30 after starting the series with six quarters of horrible shooting. Sugar Ray went 1 for 12 in the stunning Game 1 loss, and made only one of four from the floor in the first half last night. That means he was 2 for 16 over six quarters. That also means he scored 28 in the second half, none bigger than the last 2.

"He's a great shooter and we didn't have an answer for him at the end," said Gordon, who was unconscious all night.

If not for the actions of Allen, Rondo, and Baby, the Celtics would be contemplating putting the parquet in mothballs for the summer. The Bulls are proving to be a nightmare matchup. Chicago is young and playing with abandon. Miami, Philly, even Orlando would have been a better first-round matchup for the Green.

The Bulls have young legs and they are not intimidated. If they hadn't allowed the Celtics 21 offensive rebounds last night, the Bulls would be up, 2-0, easily. The Celtics had 32 second-chance points. Chicago had 12.

"That was the key," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

It's more than just the Kevin Garnett factor now. Chicago knows it can beat Boston.

Garnett's 7-foot shadow didn't seem like that big of a deal when this one finally ended. This is a good thing. Better we talk about the guys who are playing.

After Saturday's loss, Rivers said he wasn't taking any more questions about KG, but when asked about Garnett Sunday, he told one reporter, "You never know." Taking questions after shootaround yesterday, Rivers put a small percentage on the possibility of The Franchise returning before the end of the playoffs.

Rondo went down with an ankle sprain late in the first half but came back for a terrific final two quarters.

The Chicago backcourt is proving to be problematic for Boston. Derrick Rose had 36 points in Game 1 and Gordon 42 last night. Gordon scored the Bulls' final 12 points.

"It's definitely encouraging the way we played," said Gordon. "We just need to continue to do that and make some adjustments at the defensive end."

It has not been a defensive series. But it has been a spectator's delight. Unless you have a heart condition.

Unfortunately, Celtics president Danny Ainge does have a heart condition. He suffered a mild heart attack last week and was advised by doctors not to watch these games. Ainge was at the Celtics' Waltham practice facility yesterday morning.

"We told him to go home," said Rivers. "It was nice to see him looking normal, and you know if he's home, there's no way he's turning his TV off tonight."

No one could turn away from this game. The perfect ending to the perfect day in Boston sports.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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