Celtics notebook: Game 3
By Patrick Mulrenin

LOS ANGELES, June 10 -- While two members of Boston's vaunted Big Three struggled in the Celtics' 87-81 Game 3 loss at the STAPLES Center on Tuesday night, one played to the level of the moniker.

Ray Allen, who has struggled throughout most of Boston's 2008 playoff run, did his best to will his team to victory -- only to see his efforts come up just short. While the rest of the team had what might politely be deemed an "off-night," Allen scored a team-high 25 points, including 5-for-7 shooting from three-point range.

"I was just trying to just keep the team in it, just trying to put as much energy as I could out there," Allen said. "I don't know, it just seemed like offensively I was just trying to give us a boost of adrenaline out there. The ball came my way and I was just trying to carry the team for a little bit there. But defensively, you know, it was just I think it was all about energy tonight, and I think our energy wasn't right."

This postseason, Allen has averaged 14.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists. In Game 1 of the Finals, Allen hit for 19 points, five assists and eight rebounds. In Game 2, he scored 17 points to go along with two rebounds and two assists.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who had picked up the offense for Allen against the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers in the earlier playoff rounds, combined to go 8-for-35 for 19 points on Tuesday. While they did not get a win to put them up 3-0 in the Finals, Allen's offense kept the game within reach for Boston until the final seconds.

"As bad as we played, we still had opportunities," Allen said. "I mean, that's, I think, the positive. We can look at it, but I don't think throughout the whole game either side of the floor we were good. We had so much more room for improvement."

Aches and pains: Starting point guard Rajon Rondo departed Tuesday's game after spraining his left ankle early in the third quarter. He remained on the bench until five minutes remained in the fourth quarter.

"It's difficult to go down in that situation and not be able to get back up," Rondo said. "But, I couldn't bring the pressure, so I didn't want to hurt my team by going out there and not being able to contribute."

After the game, Rondo sat at his locker with his foot in a large bucket of ice. He said that the ankle felt worse the longer he remained out of action and he'll have to see how it feels Wednesday to determine his availability in Game 4 on Thursday.

The positive for the Celtics in Rondo's absence was the play of Eddie House. After not playing the first two games of the series, House scored six points and had two rebounds in 20 minutes.

"I thought Eddie House gave us a great lift tonight," Rivers said. "I went with him because when Rondo went out so early, I thought go with Eddie, we may come back with Sam [Cassell] because at the time I didn't think Rondo was coming back, and I just needed someone to stretch the floor to take them out of their double team. So clearly Rondo was the guy that obviously they decided they were going to live off and live with whatever he makes.

"What Rondo and our team has to do when that happens is we have to make more plays through Rondo when that happens, and I think Eddie did a good job of that. But Eddie was terrific."

Don't come around here no more: He may be a local boy, but Celtics captain Paul Pierce did not exactly receive "favorite son" treatment from Laker fans.

After diving through photographers, Laker Girls and the first row of seated fans to try and track down an errant pass early in the first quarter, Pierce fell to the ground and was showered with a chorus of boos.

The video board also featured a message that said: "Hey Paul Pierce: These are the NBA Finals, not the Oscars." Laker fans have gotten on Pierce for what they perceived as him faking a knee injury in the Celtics' Game 1 victory in Boston.

Teams pass over C's assistants: With the Phoenix Suns announcing the hiring Terry Porter as their next head coach on Monday, the Detroit Pistons introducing Michael Curry on Tuesday and the Chicago Bulls set to announce Vinny Del Negro as their next head coach on Wednesday, two more openings have closed for Celtics coaching assistants Tom Thibodeau and Armond Hill.

Prior to Game 3, Rivers was asked for his take on why two assistants from the Eastern Conference champions, especially defensive architect Thibodeau, have yet to be brought in to interview for NBA head coaching vacancies.

"Yeah, I don't know, I think they both should have been -- Tom has been around this game for so long," Rivers said before the game. "I just don't get the ... I can understand when you hire someone else, that's fine. I just don't get the no interview part of it. It is what it is. It's not what I'm thinking about right now, if you want me to be honest. And neither is he, to his credit."

When it was suggested that maybe teams were not willing to wait around for the Celtics to finish playing before contacting either coach, Rivers responded, "I hope that's the reason. It would be a shame if it was, but I don't know the answer."

Currently, there are no NBA head coach openings.

Quick Hits: Leon Powe, who was the hero of Game 2 for Boston, finished with one point in six minutes. ... Sam Cassell, who left after playing six minutes in Game 2 with a wrist injury, returned to action for the Celtics in Game 3. The veteran guard had two points in seven minutes. ... The Lakers House Band played rousing renditions of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" and Bob Seger's "Shakedown" at the half that were not thoroughly appreciated by the home crowd. C'mon people, these are classics from the '70s and '80s, respectively. ... Game 4 will be at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on ABC at the STAPLES Center. The Lakers win also guaranteed a Game 5, which will be played Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC at the STAPLES Center.

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