Allen's hot hand slaps Lakers as Boston draw level

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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Boston Celtics stunned the Los Angeles Lakers 103-94 in Game Two of the NBA Finals on Sunday, seizing home-court advantage in the series on the back of a scintillating display of long-range shooting from Ray Allen.

Flexing their muscles after being overpowered in Game One, veteran Allen and fellow guard Rajon Rondo led a formidable assault at a sold-out Staples Center as the Celtics ensured the teams travel to Boston locked at 1-1 in the best-of-seven set.

Allen contributed a game-high 32 points, including an NBA Finals record of eight three-pointers, while Rondo weighed in with a triple-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

"They both were terrific," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters with a smile. "Ray in the first half when he gets into those zones... our team could see it and they were doing everything they could to find him.

"I have not seen him much warmer than tonight."

The 34-year-old Allen scored 27 of his points in the first half before eclipsing the NBA Finals record of seven three-pointers he had previously shared with Scottie Pippen and Kenny Smith.

"Rondo did a terrific job of finding him (Allen)," Rivers added. "He saved us in the first half with Kevin (Garnett) in foul trouble and Paul (Pierce) struggling. We needed points and Ray gave them to us."

Spanish forward Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 25 points and center Andrew Bynum added 21 as the defending champions fought back from a 14-point deficit in the first half to lead by three late in the final quarter before running out of steam.

All-Star guard Kobe Bryant also recorded 21 points along with six assists for Los Angeles but, despite his reputation as the game's finest closer, was unable to earn his team a last-gasp win after running into foul trouble.


In front of a 19,000 capacity crowd, which included actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Hilary Swank and Jack Nicholson, the Celtics kept a tight rein on Bryant in a wildly fluctuating first quarter that ended with the visiting team 29-22 in front.

Boston tightened their grip in the second period, an early 13-6 run and Allen's hot hand putting them 14 points clear before Bryant's steal for a three-pointer on the buzzer capped a mini-revival and cut the deficit to 54-48 at half-time.

However, Rondo upstaged his more illustrious opponent with a series of driving lay-ups, jump shots and free throws as Boston regained the lead and then held on for the win.

"We had a little lead right at the end and we didn't do our job. They did," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after his team had been beaten for the first time in 10 playoff games at home this season. "Their execution was better.

"In a (best-of-seven) sequence like this there's no doubt it's a blow to us to lose the home court, but we anticipated this might happen. We're just going to have to go pick it up."

Game Three is on Tuesday and Boston will also host Game Four two days later.

Before the start of the game, a minute's silence was held in memory of the peerless U.S. college basketball coach John Wooden who died Friday at the age of 99.

Moving tributes were then paid to Wooden from the center of the court by Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, who played for Wooden at UCLA.

(Editing by John O'Brien)