Posted Jun 7 2010 6:41AM
LOS ANGELES -- He sat at the head of the interview room Sunday night with fingers interlocked and hands centered in front of him on the table on the small stage, speaking in even tones. He spoke about how nothing on the court felt rushed and that he was the "recipient" of good play by teammates. He was completely subdued, as if he didn't just put on one of the great shooting displays in Finals history.
Recipient. Good one.
Ray Allen had been here before, which obviously helps project a sense of calm, but c'mon. No one had ever been here. He passed Michael Jordan and took down one of the iconic MJ moments; after all, he hit seven consecutive three-pointers to open Game 2 and eight in all to set a Finals record. He and backcourt mate Rajon Rondo made up for whoever that was masquerading as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce by leading the Celtics to a 103-94 victory at Staples Center that tied the series and swung home-court advantage to Boston.
Remember Jordan's famous shrug as he turned up court after raining yet another three on the defenseless Trail Blazers on June 3, 1992? That was Allen after going eight-for-11 from behind the arc and 11 for 20 overall while scoring 32 points against the Lakers.
Hey, what are you going to do?
Just one of those nights.
There had never been a barrage of triples like it in the championship series, and the new record holder isn't exactly a surprise. Allen is one of the leading marksmen in history, the guy that entered this postseason with a 40.6-percent accuracy rate in the playoffs, who set a Finals record with 22 threes against the same Lakers in 2008.
But he's also the guy whose previous three games were three for eight overall and zero for two from behind the arc, six for 13 and three for seven, and three for 11 and one for three. Allen was spiking in every direction. Plus, he had played one game in the previous seven days between the end of the Eastern Conference finals and Sunday night, and that was 27 minutes chopped up by foul trouble on Thursday. There was no suggestion of consistency or dependability with the Celtics staring at the possibility of a 0-2 deficit that would have been virtually insurmountable.
So all he did with that lead in was score 10 points in the first quarter and 17 in the second while making five of six from behind the arc in that period as Boston built a 14-point lead.
Holy Jesus Shuttlesworth.
It was like Allen was working off a movie script.
After one of the makes, he couldn't help but smile. Not quite a shrug, but an unplanned moment as he ran back without his feet touching the court.
"It was just thinking about going back to Game 1, just having that feeling of being resilient as a team," Allen said. "You could do everything you can defensively. As a team, we're trying to stop Kobe [Bryant], we're trying to stop Pau [Gasol], we're trying to stop all their guys. But it's those plays, those hard plays where somebody gets on the ground and they throw the ball back out and you end up getting a three-pointer. Those are the things that are rewarding. When I got that three, it was a sense of calmness and reward that I knew I had at that moment. Again, it wasn't a rushed feeling. It was just good basketball."
How very Phil Jackson of him.
"When he gets in one of those zones, I was happy," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, as if the entire world didn't know. "Our team could see it and you could see they were doing everything they could to find him. They got him open."
Not as much in the third quarter, though, when Allen went from brilliance before intermission to needing the opening 7:20 of the period to get his first shot. It was a three-pointer, of course -- and a make, naturally. But that was still a lot of backsliding, the hottest shooter on the court turned decoy as the Lakers caught up.
He was quiet in the fourth quarter as well, but Rondo was terrific in driving the Celtics to the finish, and they all endured together. Boston had the win and Allen had the long-distance record. Good one.
"It's definitely right up there," Allen said of where the night ranks on his career highlights, "because there's no better place, moment, time to play a game, to win a game, and to win in a great fashion where everybody has to do it together as a team, and to be able to shoot the ball. And I don't know what record it is that people are telling me that I got, but it's great to have. Great to be able to look back and say I did that. This is definitely the time. This is definitely our time."
And that's nothing to shrug at.
Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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