Allen's Gamewinner Trumps Gordon's 42 as C's Tie Series
A section of carpet in the Celtics locker room is drenched, covered in white towels that are soaked through, causing leather shoes to squeeze water out of them like a sponge. On the fringe of that carpet, mounted against the locker itself, is a thick layer of frost.
Even after hitting the gamewinning three, pulling the Boston Celtics back from the brink of a cavernous hole, Ray Allen had ice water to spare.
There's just no other way to describe what Allen did to the Chicago Bulls other than cold blooded. Coming off a 1-for-12 performance in Game 1 and just two points in the first half of Game 2, Allen torched the Bulls for 28 points in the second half, icing them with two triples in the final 25 seconds.
"At halftime all I said, I needed one volunteer," Doc Rivers said. "You know, one volunteer to score for us, to step up for us. And it was Ray Allen."
In the process of tying the first round series at 1-1 with the 118-115 win, Allen (30 points, 6-of-10 from deep) outgunned fellow University of Connecticut alum Ben Gordon (42 points, 6-of-11 from the arc). Matching one another step for step, Gordon countered Allen's four three's in the fourth quarter with 12 points in the final 3:43 of regulation.
"It was almost personal," Rivers said. "That's what you felt. That neither one was going to give in to the other guy. It almost looked like they turned into a personal battle. You know, who's the best UCONN player to ever play. And it was amazing."
Nearly every one of Gordon's crunch-time buckets came with an Allen hand in his face, but Ray's shot over Joakim Noah with two ticks left on the clock made him the top dog in this battle of Huskies. It also may have saved the Celtics' season.
"At the end of the day that's what I'll go back to and look at and I'll talk about it over the summertime and I'll laugh with [Gordon] about it," Allen said. "But you know, we were exchanging jabs there, and I don't mean shots, I mean he caught me with an elbow, I got him right back with an elbow. It was just, it was competitive."
It was a level above competitive. It was a jaw-dropping, staring-in-disbelief-at-complete-strangers epic. And it not only saved the Celtics from going into Chicago down 2-0 with Leon Powe and Rajon Rondo banged up, it earned him some summertime swagger.
"It was fun and it felt like we were at UCONN in the summertime playing pick up," Gordon said. "He is a great shooter and I knew he would break out eventually. We just didn't have an answer for him at the end."
It was an answer that the Bulls had on Saturday, but the Celtics made a concerted effort to get Allen the ball in rhythm and off brick-wall screens. When things got chippy on Monday -- thanks to a few hard fouls from Joakim Noah -- the Celtics' picks got meaner, and Allen got space. And when the man Paul Pierce says is the greatest shooter in NBA history gets space, the rest, as Allen would later say, is history.