Ball game. Boston wins 103-94. Finals are tied at 1-1.
It's the first home loss for the Lakers in 10 postseason games, and it's a biggie. If Boston wins the next three at home (remember, this is a 2-3-2 format in the finals), it's over and the Celtics will hoist championship banner No. 18.
Of course, we're a long way from that.
That being said, the Celtics got a split without a real big game from Paul Pierce, with Kevin Garnett not playing as well as he has at times in these playoffs, without a whole ton of help from the bench.
They can get better. That has to be the Lakers' big fear.
See you Tuesday.
Boston is going to love this flight home tonight.
The Celtics didn't play great, by any stretch. And they're closing in on a split, wresting home-court advantage away in these finals. Up 100-93, 33 seconds remaining.
Three-possession game now, and the Lakers know it's time for nothing shy of a miracle.
Biggest play of this game?
Made by Doc Rivers.
You've got eight seconds to get the ball over half court in the NBA. The Celtics weren't going to get there with 1:26 left, so Rivers called time out — and sprinted onto the court, in his suit and shined shoes, to make sure the whistle blew.
No turnover. Celtics keep the ball. Up by five, and Doc gets huge high-fives from Kevin Garnett and Brian Scalabrine.
On the possession, Kendrick Perkins hits a reverse layup. It's a 10-0 run for Boston. Celtics by seven now, closing in on a split.
If the Lakers win this game, remember the play Kobe Bryant made with 2:07 left.
He's the defender, Celtics coming 2-on-1 with Allen and Rondo.
And he doesn't foul, which would have been his sixth. Allen doesn't score, either. Spectacular defense, spectacular awareness.
Celtics up by three, 1:59 remaining.
Remember that 3-pointer Kobe made off the lazy pass at the end of the half? How big does that seem now?
Triple-double for Rajon Rondo, 13 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and counting.
Ray Allen, a history-making night from 3-point land.
And the Celtics are still on the ropes, down 90-89 with 4:39 left.
Fans in Boston have to be asking: How?
Kobe Bryant's rest was 2 minutes. The Celtics could only wish it was longer.
First touch after he returns to the game with his five fouls, Bryant went up, double-clutched and scored in the lane while getting fouled.
87-85 Lakers, midway through the fourth, and Kobe's got a free throw coming out of the break.
Doc Rivers said it a few weeks ago, Nate Robinson is going to be a big key for the Celtics.
Doc's a genius.
Robinson didn't play in the first three quarters of Game 2. Enters for the first time, tie game, C's trying to avoid an 0-2 hole.
What's the little guy do? Comes up big, of course.
Sets up Ray Allen for a basket. Hits a layup in transition. Buries a 3-pointer. All in less than four minutes.
It'll be an afterthought in the final boxscore, but his work in these minutes probably helped Rajon Rondo get a mental rest to go with his physical one. Could be a big key for the Celtics down the stretch.
Boston by three, 8:12 left.
Oh, and Kobe just came out with his five fouls, too.
Start of the fourth quarter, Rajon Rondo on the bench for the first time in the game. He looked exhausted.
So Nate Robinson comes in and shows he's been watching the game. He looks for Ray Allen, who hits a jumper to open the fourth quarter.
Alas, that's not the big story of the opening minutes of Quarter 4.
On the other end, Glen Davis just took a charge on Kobe Bryant — Bryant's fifth foul with 11:15 remaining.
Kobe wants to stay in. So far, Phil Jackson is letting his star stay on the floor. Question is, for how long? Kobe couldn't even challenge Big Baby on the next possession as the Celtics took a four-point lead early in the final quarter.
Lakers 37, Celtics 14.
That's not the score.
That's the number of free throws attempted so far in this game.
It's one of the most overrated fan complaints in basketball that two teams should have roughly the same number of FTAs in a game, how something that's a foul on one end isn't a foul on the other end. It's largely hogwash.
And tonight, same thing.
The Celtics have been late on help too many times and reaching instead of going straight up. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum have played textbook defense around the rim, each blocking five shots so far.
Tied at 72, three quarters in the books. This ending could be classic.
Fouls are adding up.
Kobe Bryant just went to the bench with 6:19 left in the third quarter with 13 points after a, well, questionable call after Rajon Rondo stole the ball from him. Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins already had four for Boston, Glen Davis picked up his fourth a few moments after Bryant went to the bench, and a slew of players have three.
Among them: Lamar Odom, who got three quick ones in less than three minutes in the first quarter. He just checked back into the game for the first time.
Meanwhile, Ray Allen just hit his eighth 3-pointer of the game. The NBA finals record is all his.
A reminder that the Celtics are playing for hope tonight.
Only three teams in NBA history have gone down 0-2 in the finals and rallied to win the title.
Dwyane Wade and the Heat did it in 2006 to Dallas. Portland did it to Philadelphia in 1977. And the Celtics did it to the Lakers in 1969. (Yes, today's Celtics are old, but none actually played in that series. We checked.)
You have to wonder how much frustration over blowing the big first-half lead, combined with the fear of going down 0-2, will affect Boston in terms of added pressure as this nip-and-tuck game rolls along.
That big Celtics lead is gone, the Lakers scoring the first five points of the second half — after scoring the last seven of the first half.
Ray Allen was sizzling in the first half. It's like Boston has forgotten he's on the floor so far in the early moments after halftime.
Lazy defense by Kendrick Perkins, Pau Gasol hits a jumper, and lo and behold, the Lakers are back on top, 57-56.
Ray Allen just had a record-setting first half of Game 2 of the NBA finals.
His 7 of 8 showing from 3-point range is:
— The most 3's hit in a half in finals history (old record was 6, by Michael Jordan vs. Portland in 1992, Kenny Smith for Houston against Orlando in 1995, and Allen against the Lakers in 2008).
— Ties the record for 3's made in a finals game, joining Scottie Pippen against Utah in 1997 and Smith in that game against the Magic 15 years ago.
When Allen's 8th try was the first to miss (and it was halfway down before rattling out), it at least gave Scott Wedman and Paul Pierce reason to relax. The fellow Celtics hold the record for most 3's in a finals game without a miss — Wedman was 4 for 4 against the Lakers in 1985, Pierce 4 for 4 against L.A. in 2008.
Bear in mind, the Celtics were an atrocious 1 for 10 from 3-land in Game 1 of this series.
The 3's giveth, and the 3's taketh away, though.
Kobe Bryant (back in with three fouls) just nailed a 3 with 0.2 seconds left in the half after stealing a lazy pass. And Boston's lead has been trimmed to 54-48 at halftime.
Kobe Bryant just picked up his third foul with 3:20 left in the half, after a perfect sales job by Ray Allen.
Hey, it's L.A. Acting is encouraged.
Allen hit the deck, Kobe went to the bench and the Staples Center crowd roared in disbelief for nearly a good minute — until, on the next possession, Derek Fisher flopped and drew an offensive foul against, you guessed it, Allen.
Celtics by 13, late in the half. How? Allen just hit his 7th 3-pointer. In 7 attempts. Best shooting performance in the NBA finals we've seen since probably, oh, Jordan's 3-point barrage against Portland in '92.
Memo to the Lakers: Start guarding Ray Allen.
Allen was fuming after being a spectator for most of Game 1, thanks to foul trouble. So how does Allen respond? He starts 5 for 5 in Game 2 from 3-point range, helping stake the Celtics to what was a 14-point lead.
Unofficially, none of them even brushed the rim. All twine, every time.
Derek Fisher couldn't guard him. Shannon Brown couldn't guard him. So the Lakers had no choice — they've given the job to Kobe Bryant. One of the game's best on-the-ball defenders against one of the best rapid-fire shooters.
This is going to get interesting.
Smart officiating by Ken Mauer. Unless you're a Lakers fan.
Kendrick Perkins just used his "Get out of jail free" card, apparently. He was jostling with Pau Gasol with 8:36 left in the half, a situation where the NBA has doled out double-technicals about 1,029 times (gross exaggeration for effect) so far in these playoffs.
OK, they've done it a lot.
Had Mauer called the T, Perkins would have missed Game 3 of the finals. He has six techs already in the postseason; getting to seven is an automatic suspension.
The Lakers missed 10 straight shots over a 5½-minute stretch, which is surprising.
So is this: Those 10 shots were missed by seven different players.
Call it an equal-opportunity slump. When things are good for the Lakers, they're good for everyone. And when things are bad, everyone slides at once.
Kobe Bryant missed three of the 10 shots, all of them jumpers. Pau Gasol missed two and five other guys — Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown and Andrew Bynum — all missed one.
Meanwhile, when Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer with 9:12 left in the half, Boston had a 36-26 lead. Rajon Rondo had five assists, the last of them setting up Allen for that 3.
Well, the Lakers WERE looking good offensively.
Then they did what about 20,000 people pay money to do at every home game — watched Kobe Bryant work.
Way too much relying on Bryant in the last four minutes of the first quarter, in which the defending champions missed their final seven shots from the floor and fell behind 29-22.
Celtics had been down by five, then closed the quarter by scoring 27 of the final 42 points.
A lot of the credit for LA's offensive struggles late goes to Boston, of course, which clogged the lane, took away cuts and made everything tough. And when Rasheed Wallace is hitting long jumpers, well, that opens up everything for the Celtics.
Speaking of clogging the lane, Paul Pierce had one of the biggest plays of the first quarter, taking the offensive foul on Lamar Odom in the last half-minute. Odom's line off the bench: 3 minutes, 3 fouls.
Never underestimate the power of between-games adjustments in a playoff series.
Especially the finals.
Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson did their homework Friday and Saturday, and the offenses are reaping the benefits.
The first quarter of Game 1 was a slow, plodding affair, no offensive flow from either side, the game getting stopped approximately every 1.7 seconds for foul calls and what-not.
Not Game 2. The Celtics and Lakers actually looked like what they are — the league's two best teams.
Ray Allen hit 4 of his first 5 shots (including a pair of 3s, the first of which was reviewed during the time-out with 4:38 left and confirmed to be from beyond the arc), the Celtics were screening exceptionally well, and Boston came out confident. The Lakers, just like Kobe Bryant wanted, had everyone involved offensively early — especially Pau Gasol, who ought to be called Pau Tootall, because when he outstretches those skyscrapers he calls arms, he can pretend the Boston defender in front of him isn't even there.
21-20 Lakers, 3:46 left first.
Fitting, wasn't it, that the Celtics went to Kevin Garnett on the first possession.
The story of the two off days was the whole was-it-an-insult-or-no thing where Pau Gasol said KG had lost a step, and how the perception was that ruffled Garnett's feathers.
So on the first shot of the game, Garnett takes — and makes — an impossible shot from down low.
Problem was, the Lakers scored the game's next seven points, getting the upper hand early. And then with 9:22 left in the first, Garnett picked up his second foul, certainly prompting many C's fans to mutter, "Here we go again."
Game 2 is moments away. Big key for the Celtics tonight, of course, will be avoiding the foul trouble that sent their game plan out the window in Game 1.
Kobe Bryant, well, he's going to get his points. That's a given.
But rebounding and fouls — effort areas — are things Boston can control. Stop grabbing, get around screens, get to the glass, and the Celtics could head back to Beantown tonight with the split they went to Los Angeles craving.
And Paul Pierce needs more than 11 points through three quarters tonight.
For the Lakers, more of the same. Unbeaten at home this postseason, they could move halfway to another title tonight.