Ray Allen set a finals record by sinking eight shots from beyond the arc on the way to a 32-point night on Sunday, as the Celtics wrestled home-court advantage away from Los Angeles and evened the championship series with a 103-94 Game 2 win.
"I thought they (Lakers) did everything they could to keep me from shooting threes and they worked tirelessly," Allen said. "We were setting great screens and I was getting to my spots."
Rajon Rondo recorded his fifth career playoff triple-double with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for Boston. Rondo had 10 points in the fourth quarter, including six during a big 11-0 run that gave Boston the lead for good. It was the first finals triple-double for a Celtics player since Larry Bird turned the trick in 1986.
"Getting the loose balls, I think that was key for me personally, trying to track down all the long rebounds," Rondo said. "Our bigs are doing a great job of making them take tough shots."
The defending NBA champion Lakers won the opener of the set on Thursday, 102-89, behind Kobe Bryant's 30-point, seven-rebound, six-assist performance. Bryant had 21 points Sunday as he battled foul trouble throughout the game.
"We gave them too many easy baskets and blew too many defensive assignments," Bryant said.
Pau Gasol recorded 25 points, eight boards and six blocks, while Andrew Bynum notched 21 points and seven blocks as the Lakers set an NBA Finals single-game record with 14 swats but lost for the first time at Staples Center this postseason.
"We definitely need to make sure we hustle a little more," Gasol said. "They got to the ball tonight, a lot of times quicker than we did. Second chance opportunities and just loose balls, they were pursuing the ball definitely with more desire."
With the next three contests of the best-of-seven series set for TD Garden, the Celtics could earn their record 18th NBA title without ever returning to Hollywood. However, Doc Rivers' team has been uncharacteristically pedestrian as the host this season, compiling a 24-17 record during the regular season and a more solid 7-2 mark in the postseason. The Lakers, meanwhile, have won four times on the road this postseason.
The NBA Finals has been tied at a game apiece 32 different times and the winner of Game 3 has gone on to take 28 of those series.
The 2010 Finals marks the Lakers' 31st trip to the championship series and Boston's 21st appearance with 12 of those overlapping in clashes between the NBA's two most storied franchises.
Their finals history dates all the way back to the 1958-59 season when the Lakers still called Minneapolis home. Boston and the game's ultimate winner, Bill Russell, dominated the early years of the rivalry. The Red Auerbach-era Celtics took the Lakers all seven times they met in the finals, although the Jerry West, Elgin Baylor fueled LA clubs did manage to take Boston to seven games on three different occasions.
The rivalry lay dormant for 15 years until Larry Bird and Magic Johnson "saved" the NBA by bringing their own storied college rivalry to the pros. Bird avenged his loss at Indiana State to Magic's Michigan State Spartans in the 1979 NCAA Finals when the Celtics got past the Lakers in seven games to win the 1983-84 NBA title.
Johnson and his Lakers responded the next season as LA finally beat Boston in the finals for the first time. Magic also won the rubber match two years later before the rivalry went cold again, this time for 20 years as the Celtics struggled mightily in the post-Bird era.
Boston basketball chief Danny Ainge re-ignited things by acquiring both Kevin Garnett and Allen before the 2007-08 season. The two All-Stars teamed with Paul Pierce to create the "Boston Three Party" and the Celtics were relevant again. A 17th Boston championship was the result as Garnett and his Celtics got the best of Bryant's Lakers.
A rematch could have been in the offing last season but a knee injury to Garnett derailed any hopes of a Celtics repeat. Instead, LA earned its 15th championship by taking Orlando in five games.
The Lakers and Celtics have combined to win 32 of the NBA's 63 titles coming into this series.
Game 4 of this best-of-seven series is scheduled for Thursday in Boston.