Monday June 7th, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't always pretty, but 22 lead changes, 11 ties and a superhuman shooting night from Ray Allen later and the Celtics have pulled even in this series, grinding out a 103-94 victory over the Lakers.

1. What about Ray? There's hot and there is Ray-Allen-in-Game 2 hot. Boston's elder statesman canned eight three-pointers, including seven in a surreal first half, to break an NBA Finals record, and finished the game with a team-high 32 points. Over the weekend, Allen appeared eager to erase the memory of a foul filled, 12-point, 27-minute Game 1 stinker; and he did, singlehandedly carrying Boston to a six-point halftime lead and digging in with rugged defense that limited Kobe Bryant to eight points (on 3-8 shooting) in the fourth quarter.

"Ray in the first half, when he gets into those zones our team could see it and you could see they could do to find him," said coach Doc Rivers. "We needed points and Ray gave them to us."

With Bryant defending Rajon Rondo early, Allen took advantage of Derek Fisher, consistently running Fisher right into the screens and using his four-inch height advantage to create space for his shot.

"If you watched him the last two days, he took a million shots," said Rivers. "It's no coincidence that the great shooters are great shooters. They work on it more. Ray shows up three hours before every game. There's a reason [he] can shoot."

2. Rondo bounces back. It wasn't that Rondo played poorly in Game 1 -- 13 points and eight assists in a Finals game is a dream line for many players -- but Boston's inability to get stops kept the jittery guard from getting the offense into transition. It was a little different story on Sunday. Rondo was everywhere, powering the Celtics to an 11-4 advantage in fast break points and finishing with his fifth career playoff triple-double (19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists). With Boston playing better D, Rondo was able to control the tempo of the game. And with the referees calling the game tight (58 fouls called), Rondo was able to use his speed against Bryant and Fisher to wreak havoc in the lane.

"Rondo's offensive rebounds, some little things he did out there, they were really a difference maker in the second half," said Phil Jackson. "The first half was obviously Ray's shooting; the second half Rondo had some key plays there that changed the course of the game."

3. Welcome to the milk carton, Lamar Odom, Kevin Garnett. Two key players. Two nonexistent Finals. Garnett had decent numbers (16 points) in Game 1 but was badly outplayed by Pau Gasol. In Game 2, Gasol was again superior, outscoring Garnett 25-6 and drawing several crucial whistles on Garnett in the paint. It isn't that the Lakers are keying on Garnett, either. His shot just isn't falling.

"He is missing," said a scout. "He has no explosion and looks like he is stuck in the mud."

If Garnett is struggling, Odom is positively floundering. He followed up Thursday's five-point effort with a three-point, five-foul performance in Game 2. The stellar play of Andrew Bynum (21 points) has kept the heat off of Odom, but oftentimes Odom is the Lakers bench, making his ability to find his game in Boston crucial to the Lakers' success.

"He got in the game, got those three fouls and it really took him out of the game," said Jackson. "That's a bit unfortunate for him."

4. The Lakers' unpredictability could be their unraveling. Inconsistency has plagued L.A. throughout the playoffs. The Lakers take two from Oklahoma City and follow it up with back-to-back losses to the Thunder. They look unbeatable against the Suns -- until they go to Phoenix and get dropped twice. The Lakers' Jekyll and Hyde act continued Sunday. After an extremely effective Game 1, Ron Artest submitted a six-point bomb in 41 minutes (on 1-10 shooting), which included a bizarre shot-clock-draining dribbling sequence ("one of the most unusual sequences I've ever seen," said Jackson) late in the fourth quarter. After shooting 40 percent from three-point range in Game 1, L.A. made just 22.7 percent of its treys in Game 2. Los Angeles destroyed Boston on the boards in the first game (42-31) but was beaten 44-39 on the glass Sunday. With the Lakers, it seems, you are never really sure which team you are going to get.

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