7 points, 4431 views
NBA Finals
Series Tied 1 - 1

This was the earlier Rajon Rondo of the NBA playoffs. This was the one who declared himself the best point guard in the league. Not the one who came up lame in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. This was the all-around Rondo, who had a series of huge plays late, including a jumper to ice the game. Rondo's play and the explosive first half by Ray Allen proved too much for the Lakers as the Celtics pulled away with a 103-94 victory in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center Sunday. "Tonight was unbelievable," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers of Rondo. "He was special tonight." Rondo finished with 19 points, 10 assists, 12 rebounds and two steals. This marked his second triple-double this postseason and the fifth in his postseason career. Though Rondo stole the show late, the first half was all about sharpshooter Allen. After being plagued by foul trouble in Game 1 and scoring just 12 points, Allen absolutely thrashed the Lakers with his silky smooth shot. He finished with a game-high 32 points, 27 of which came in the first half. He also set an NBA Finals record for most 3-pointers in a game by going 8-for-11 from deep. "It's definitely right up there," said Allen of setting the record and where this performance ranks in his career. "(It's) great to be able to look back on it and say I did that." With the victory, the Celtics even the series at 1-1 and take homecourt advantage away from the Lakers. The next three games will be in Boston with Game 3 on Tuesday. Though this game was decided in the final minutes, it seemed as if momentum was in favor of the Lakers. After trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, they managed to tie it up 72-72 by the end of the third quarter. There were several plays by the Lakers in the middle of the fourth quarter. One was a defensive stand. The Celtics had four cracks under the Lakers basket and couldn't convert. Andrew Bynum had a pair of blocks during that sequence. Then there was Kobe Bryant's double clutch bank shot. He was fouled too by Allen and converted the 3-point play. Then a series of turnovers by the Lakers hurt them down the stretch. "We weren't playing smart," said Bynum, who tied a career-playoff high with 21 points and recorded six rebounds to go along with seven blocks. "We were playing bad basketball. "We turned the ball over, it was that simple. Then Rondo is pushing it and Rondo hits an elbow jumper." Los Angeles did have a 90-87 lead with 5:21 left in the game, but Boston closed out the game on a 16-4 run. Rondo hurt the defending champs the most down the stretch. He pulled down rebounds (four offensive) like a younger Kevin Garnett. He got inside the Lakers defense for easy lay-ins. He scored eight of the team's 10 points at one point, including a key 16-foot jumper from the left elbow. "He took a million of those shots this summer, and he didn't hesitate," Rivers said. "That was my favorite play for him." This game is tough to swallow for the Lakers after coming in with all the momentum following a decisive victory in Game 1 Thursday. "Everyone was just pissed off," said Bynum of the atmosphere in the locker room following the Lakers first home loss this postseason. "The coaching staff told us that this might be the last time we play here. I think that woke everybody up." In the loss, Pau Gasol finished with a team-high 25 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Bryant scored 21 points but had an off night going 8-for-20 shooting. Bryant was also plagued with foul trouble, playing nearly the entire fourth quarter with five fouls. As a team Los Angeles shot 40.8 percent to the Boston's 42.9 percent. Someone who may have been overlooked in the Celtics' win was the play of reserve Nate Robinson. The Celtics late-season acquisition gave Rondo a breather in the fourth quarter and scored seven straight points in six minutes of action. "Rondo was exhausted," Rivers said. "We needed offense. Ray was exhausted in that period, in that stretch, and we put in Nate...so that was big for us." So was Allen. He sank seven straight 3-pointers before missing a wide-open attempt in the final minute of the second quarter. Allen's seven makes in the first half tied a Finals record for most 3-pointers made in a game, a record he held along with Scottie Pippen and Kenny Smith. Bryant and Derek Fisher looked as if they were going through a gauntlet, trying to fight off a bevy of Boston screens to get to Allen, who needed just a ray of light to get his shot off. Despite no other Celtic scoring more than six points in the first half, Allen and his blistering shooting helped Boston lead by as many as 14 points in the first half. "He carried us the whole way," Rondo said. "He took over the game." Added Robinson: "Ray is hands down the best shooter in NBA history. He's an amazing piece of work. It's kind of cool just watching him. Every time he gets the ball we think it's going in." The defending champs will now have to make their adjustments as they head on the road. This postseason, the Lakers sport a 4-4 road record. "There's no doubt it's a blow to use to lose the homecourt," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "But we anticipated this might happen, and we're just going to have to go pick it up."