Allen Sets New 3-Point Standard in Special Night at TD Garden
BOSTON - This year, it may be All About 18, but for one night anyway, it was All About Ray.
If you were going pick a time, place and opponent to set the stage for Ray Allen to become the NBA's new 3-point shooting king, Feb. 10, 2011 was probably the date you wanted all along. At home in the Garden, on national TV against the Lakers, in front of Reggie Miller, who was broadcasting courtside ready to pass the torch.
It doesn't get any better than that, does it?
Actually, it could have. Despite jumping out to a large first half lead, the Celtics were undermanned on the wing (already without Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson went down with a knee bruise) and overmatched in the paint (Shaquille O'Neal and Semih Erden didn't dress) and fell to the Lakers at the TD Garden Thursday night, 92-86.
But in many ways, the final score took a backseat to NBA history. There was a Conference Finals level buzz in the building, with an oversized media contingent hovering for pregame. And as much as a game against the Lakers is always a big event, with history waiting to be made, the entire building was humming hours before tip-off.
It took Allen just over 10 minutes of game action to hit the two 3s he needed to pass Miller at 2,561, and throughout the entire first quarter, Allen was the only guy anyone was watching. You even forgot Kobe Bryant was on the floor, or that the Lakers were serving as foils. It was all about Ray.
"Going back a game or so ago, in Charlotte, the stage wasn't there, and I knew people wanted to see me do it," Allen said of the possibility of breaking the record on the road on Monday, rather than doing it Thursday at the Garden. "If I did it, I did it, but the stage here was set. When I ran out on the floor, and saw all the signs, and all the people...this record, I just didn't really understand until that moment just how big it was. Coming into the game, the game was already big enough, with who we played and being on national TV.
"Somebody told me this is my moment enjoy it, and I'm sitting here thinking I've never really had a moment that's mine, I've always shared it with guys," Allen said. "So I'm standing on the floor, and you've got to take individual praise for 30 seconds, I don't know how to do that 'cause I've never had to. I've never had a time where I've had to stand out there and say thank you, because it really was about me."
It seemed like it took forever for Allen to get a moment to acknowledge the moment when it did arrive. When he hit the record-breaking shot, play continued as normal despite a deafening ovation, and only when Andrew Bynum went to the free throw line 20 seconds later did Allen get any chance to soak anything in.
From the opening tip, the Celtics wasted no time in getting Allen involved in the offense, and every trip down the floor, it seemed as though the play was drawn up for him. Working off curls, screens and pin-downs, Allen was flying around, pinballing off bodies and shucking defenders as he worked to get open.
Allen hit two of his first three midrange jumpers before finally attempting his first 3-pointer at the 7:22 mark when he launched a bomb from the left corner. His shot drew a loud gasp from the crowd, but the ball rattled in before popping out.
But at the 4:14 mark of the first quarter, an open three from the right wing that found nothing but net tied Miller's mark of 2,560, sending the Garden into hysteria. And 20 seconds later, with the Garden still humming, he almost set the new record on the Celtics' next possession after a Lakers turnover and a transition 3-point shot attempt that just missed the mark.
At the 3:06 mark, Allen hit an off-balanced pull-up fadeaway from 18 feet in the right corner that gave him nine points and likely a nice confidence boost. He missed his next shot off a pin-down and was 4-for-8 from the field, but he was wide open the next time the ball found him, and he said it was like "slow motion" waiting for Rajon Rondo's pass to get to him as he was all alone on the right wing again.
From nearly the same spot as the record-tying 3, Allen sunk a long-range jumper that looked effortless and rewrote history.
"That second 3, almost, it seemed like it was slow motion for me, 'cause I've seen the whole thing develop," Allen said. "Where the ball kind of comes so slow, like somebody is almost slow motioning it on TV. That's exactly how it felt, because the minute we got the stop and Rondo got the ball...In my mind it just started, and I just said to myself, 'This is it.' "
The shot fell, the record fell, and the Celtics led the Lakers 22-14 with 1:48 to play in the first. The next two minutes were a waiting game until the quarter expired, when Allen finally got a chance to acknowledge Miller again, hug his mother, and then quickly visit with his family seated courtside along the baseline.
Allen finished the quarter with 12 points and would finish the game with 20 (and one more 3) but also came out on the losing end. Not exactly how he'd have drawn it up, but the magnitude of his accomplishment should ease some of the sting that comes with losing on your home floor to your arch rivals.
"The support I've had coming into this moment, this situation, I felt a little embarrassed because there was so much attention surrounding this 3-point record," Allen said. "I've never really experienced this much because this is a team sport, very rarely do you get that emotional individual support so it was overwhelming but a great moment. I'll remember this for the rest of my life."
For the rest of his career, Allen will be padding his new record. Teammate Paul Pierce, who himself currently sits at No. 12 on the all-time 3-point list, is only about 1,000 3s behind Allen, and said after the game he thinks Allen will have plenty of time to increase his lead.
"I'll never catch him. I know that for a fact. Records are made to be broken, but I don't think it will be broken for a very long time," Pierce said. "He still has four or five years left in him."
Ray finished the night with 2,562 career 3-pointers, and didn't dismiss the idea that he'll have those four or five years to continue to build on the record.
"I couldn't feel any better. My body feels great. I'm well rested," Allen said. "It's somewhat easy to do this, what I'm doing now....At this rate, I feel like I could go forever."