Allen puts on historic shooting display
He sets record with eight treys
LOS ANGELES — The script seemed tailor-made for a stocky guy styling courtside in the designer shades. Yo, that guy, “Rocky’’ Stallone.
Three nights after Ray Allen sat helplessly foul-ridden on the Celtics bench while his teammates pursued an NBA title, Allen last night played the avenger, rising from basketball’s version of the canvas with such record-setting force that he changed the course of the championship series.
Pow. Allen all but KO’d the Lakers defense single-handedly as he struck for 32 points, including a Finals-record eight 3-pointers to power the Celtics to a series-tying 103-94 victory in Game 2 at a sold-out Staples Center.
It was a world title fight, as basketball audiences in 215 countries witnessed Allen’s televised masterwork. The game was broadcast in 41 languages, and you could all but imagine the superlatives tossed Allen’s way in every tongue from Togo to South Philly.
“He’s a master of his art,’’ Glen Davis said as the Celtics prepared to jet home in far better position than before Allen’s remarkable performance.
Allen’s eight treys, including seven in the first half, broke the record for the NBA Finals shared by himself, Scottie Pippen, and Kenny Smith.
“Obviously, Ray was the catalyst for us,’’ said Paul Pierce, whose diminished offense (10 points on 2-for-11 shooting) was offset by Allen’s excellence.
When Allen sank a 25-footer on a pass from Davis with 3:57 to go in the third quarter for his eighth trey, he eclipsed the seven 3-pointers he sank in the championship-clinching Game 6 in 2008 against the Lakers. Pippen hit his seven June 6, 1997, for the Bulls against the Jazz, after Smith sank seven for the Rockets June 7, 1995, against the Magic.
Allen also had shared the record for six 3-pointers in a half in a championship series before he hit his seventh in the second quarter. He had shared the record with Smith and Michael Jordan, who hit his six in a magnificent performance in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals against Portland.
“I do remember that, and Mike, I’m going to tell him that his were a lot easier,’’ Allen said. “He wasn’t running off screens. He was just shooting the ball and had it going. As a child, those were some of my favorite memories, being a fan of MJ and the things he did in the playoffs and the Finals. That’s something that’s going to stand out in my mind for the rest of my life.’’
Allen, who scored only 12 points as he played fewer than 28 minutes because of foul trouble in Game 1, helped to compensate not only for Pierce’s meager scoring but a second straight sluggish offensive performance from Boston’s bigs, particularly Kevin Garnett (6 points and four rebounds in 23:43). Garnett was hampered by five fouls, while Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and Rasheed Wallace each accumulated four.
“He carried us the whole way,’’ Rajon Rondo said of Allen. “Guys were in foul trouble, and we were playing on the edge, but he helped us get through it. It was fun to watch.’’
Allen finished shooting 8 for 11 from 3-point range and 11 for 20 overall. He hit both his free throw attempts, added two assists, and grabbed three rebounds. In a stunning turnaround, Allen hit his first seven threes after the Celtics sank only 1 of 10 3-point attempts in Game 1.
“When he gets into one of those zones . . . I was happy,’’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “Our team could see it and you could see they were doing everything they could to find him. They got him open.’’
Allen toyed with three defenders: Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, and Kobe Bryant.
“The other night was frustrating,’’ Allen said. “Bigs created screens for me today. Rondo pushed the ball in transition, we got a lot more fast-break opportunities this time than we did in Game 1. We got stops and we were able to run, so the three ball did go in the air definitely a little more.’’
Allen’s threes helped the Celtics open a 14-point lead in the first half before the Lakers cut the difference to 6 at the half. At one point, he seemed so pleased with making a three that he smiled heading back down court.
“I was just thinking about going back to Game 1, just having that feeling of being resilient as a team,’’ he said. “When I got that three, it was a sense of calmness and reward that I knew I had at that moment.’’
Yo, Ray, how did it really feel after the game?
“Great to be able to look at it and say I did that,’’ he said. “This is definitely the time. This is definitely our time.’’
Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.