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The Boston Celtics did what they had to do in a Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, defeating the Lakers 103-94 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Game 2 was all but a must-win for the Celtics, who will head back to Boston feeling pretty optimistic about their chances to take control of this best-of-seven NBA Finals Series in Games 3, 4, and 5.
Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo were the catalysts for Boston. Allen’s record-breaking three-point shooting display in the first half was perhaps the biggest reason why the Celtics were able to even the Series at 1-1. The soon-to-be 35-year-old veteran absolutely bombarded Los Angeles from beyond the arc, hitting a Finals-record eight three-pointers. He scored 27 of his 32 points in the first half, and kept the Celtics in the game throughout the first two quarters.
Rondo provided the offensive firepower in the second half, recording yet another postseason triple-double. The Boston point guard finished with 19 points, a team-high 12 rebounds, and 10 assists on the night. Ten of those 19 points came in the fourth quarter, with the game in the balance. A crafty layup from Rondo put Boston ahead 91-90 with 3:21 remaining, and the Celtics never looked back. Kevin Garnett hit a jumper on the next possession, and Rondo then iced the victory with a jumper of his own.
“He just did a lot of things — the blocked shots, the steals,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s our quarterback, and he does a lot of stuff for us. He was special tonight.”
The Celtics maintained a healthy double-digit lead throughout the first half thanks to hot shooting from Ray Allen, but suffered an almost-devastating collapse at the end of the first half. A couple of careless turnovers by Shelden Williams helped the Lakers whittle the lead from 13 to six in the 90 seconds of the second quarter. Kobe Bryant drained a deep three-pointer with two tenths of a second remaining, making the score 54-48 Boston at the break.
The home team came out firing in the second-half, picking up where they left off, and at the end of the third quarter the game was tied 72-72. The Lakers countered strong performances from Allen and Rondo with big efforts from interior players Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Bynum finished with 21 points, while Gasol recorded 25 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
Paul Pierce had an off night, and Kevin Garnett continued to struggle, scoring just six points. Luckily, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis were able to pickup the slack for the C’s. The two bench players combined for 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant got into foul trouble early in the game, and was never able to find his rhythm. After finishing with 30 points in 39 minutes in Game 1, he managed just 21 points in 34 minutes in Game 2.
After being embarrassed in Game 1, the Celtics admitted they weren’t mentally prepared for the opening game of the series. In Game 2, the Celtics played with a lot more effort, and it showed. They’ll need to continue to play with the same energy and focus to have a shot at dethroning Los Angeles.
“It’s a disappointing loss for our ballclub, but they did a good job,” Pau Gasol said. “They really executed and had a good game plan. We definitely need to make sure we hustle a little more. They got to the ball a lot of times quicker than we did, second-chance opportunities, loose balls. They were pursuing the ball with a little more desire.”
Kobe Bryant did an excellent job defending Rajon Rondo in Game 1, but he was forced to cover the red-hot Ray Allen throughout the latter part of Game 2. Although Allen had a quiet second half, Kobe’s defensive switch allowed Rondo to have a big night against the likes of Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, and Jordan Farmar.
Kobe’s play also dipped on the offensive end in Game 2. He managed just 21 points after dropping 30 in the Game 1 victory. Early foul trouble and tenacious defense from Ray Allen and Paul Pierce put a damper on the Black Mamba’s evening.
After being out-rebounded 42-31 and outscored 48-30 in the paint in Game 1, it was obvious the Celtic’s big men had to have a better effort in Game 2, and they certainly did. The Celtics out-rebounded the Lakers 44-39 on Sunday night. They also held a 36-26 edge in points in the paint, and held Los Angeles to far fewer second chance opportunities.
The Celtics have officially stolen home-court, but need to win Game 3 to keep it. It would appear the C’s have that sense of urgency back, and they’ll need it against a strong Lakers squad. We’ll see you for Game 3 on Tuesday night!
Tags: Andrew Bynum, Boston Celtics, Derek Fisher, Doc Rivers, Glen Davis, Jordan Farmar, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Finals, NBA Playoffs 2010, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Shelden Williams