Allen snaps out of mini-funk in big way
It was almost a week of non-stop torture out here for Ray Allen.
And then, three of the greatest hours of his life.
After enduring a long delay before Game 1 of the Finals, then a miserable opener in a loss to the Lakers, the Celtics’ veteran sharpshooter finally got to spend some enjoyable and record-setting moments in L.A. when the Celtics stunned the Lakers in Game 2 of the Finals Sunday night.
Allen saved the Celtics’ hides by hitting seven 3-pointers in the first half and a record eight in Boston’s 103-94 victory.
Not that Monday, the day the Celtics’ arrived, through the first part of Sunday was anything that Allen wanted to remember.
“The game, and then the four or five days before that was frustrating because I like to get out there and play,’’ Allen said. “Here in the Finals it’s tough. Like I tried to play golf a couple of days ago, and I really couldn’t focus on it because my mind was thinking every second. How am I going to guard Kobe on this play? How are we going to guard Gasol in the post? So many different things. Throughout the day it would just flash in my mind. I was upset I was trying to think of things that I need to do to be better. I wasn’t in the best of moods. But I just focused on being the best team player I could.’’
Considering the stakes, considering the Celtics couldn’t afford to go home down 0-2, Allen couldn’t have come up any bigger. His 27 points in the first half were half of Boston's total. Who would have expected that kind of epic 24 minutes? This is the same player who missed the only two 3-pointers he attempted and contributed a meager 12 points in the Celtics’ 13-point loss.
But Sunday, starting around 5 o’clock, the torture ended for Ray Allen.
Bynum comes up big
The Lakers wasted a big night from Andrew Bynum -- and they might pay for it Tuesday night in Boston.
With Lamar Odom in foul trouble all night, Bynum gave the Lakers 39 minutes and he chipped in 21 points, tying his career playoff high.
But now comes the hard part: Game 3. Playing with torn cartilage in his right knee, Bynum has a more difficult turnaround than anyone else in the Finals. He’s got to endure the cross-country trip to Boston, then get back out on the court in 48 hours.
As treacherous as that might sound, Phil Jackson tried to look for the positive.
“We had two days between games,’’ he said. “I thought he recovered real well off of some swelling that he had, and he was able to play. He’s in as good a physical shape as he could possibly be at this time of the year. I was just pleased that he could play 35 minutes plus.’’
But who’s to say he can do that again Tuesday, or in Game 4 Thursday, when he’ll again have only one day off?
Nate Robinson to the rescue!
No, that’s not a misprint.
To start the fourth quarter, the ex-Knick came up with six enormous minutes, allowing a gassed Rajon Rondo to get a much-needed breather. Robinson scored seven points, keeping the Celtics close. Then Rondo returned and put the finishing touches on the Lakers, outperforming Kobe Bryant in the fourth quarter.
This was only the second time since acquiring Robinson in February that he made the Celtics look smart in bringing him on board. The first time came in the Game 6 close-out win over Orlando.
Robinson wasn’t alone. With Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins in foul trouble all night, they got other big contributions off the bench from Rasheed Wallace (seven points, seven rebounds in 18 minutes) and Big Baby Davis (eight points, seven rebounds in 18 minutes.).
“The bench was huge,’’ Doc Rivers said.
It was a big improvement over Game 1, when the Celtics’ reserves contributed only 16 points and nine rebounds. In Game 2, they raised the production to 24 points and 15 rebounds.
Crying foul on Kobe
How could Phil Jackson complain about the officiating after his team enjoyed a 15-foul shot edge over the Celtics in Game 2 and outscored the Celtics by 11 at the line?
Easy. The Lakers’ best player, Kobe Bryant, spent the night in foul trouble and didn’t seem to get the superstar treatment on his home floor that one might expect in the Finals.
Bryant was held to 21 points -- he needed 20 shots to get those -- and was limited to 34 minutes.
“I wasn’t happy with those foul calls,’’ Jackson said. “He tried to play aggressively and he got called for it. It really changed the complexion of the game.’’
At one point in the fourth, Jackson allowed Bryant to stay in the game after picking up his fifth foul. The Celtics couldn’t believe the risk that Jackson was taking.
“I could hear my players talking about it in the timeout,’’ said Doc Rivers. “I kept saying, “Guys, stay within the rhythm of your offense. We would have loved to have got his sixth foul, but when teams try to do that, they usually don’t score or get the foul.’’
After about three minutes, during which Bryant did not even attempt to play defense, Jackson reached his senses and got Bryant off the court.
KG struggles again
Pau Gasol was only telling the truth when he noted that Kevin Garnett isn’t the same player he used to be. And it’s not as if those remarks came back to haunt Gasol.
It’s been a nightmare Finals for Garnett. Gasol has outscored him, 48-22.
For all of Garnett’s struggles, he did pass for three assists in the fourth quarter and he did hit one big basket down the stretch when the Celtics went on an 11-0 run late in the game. But otherwise, he was hampered by fouls and played only 23:43.