The Boston Celtics topped the Los Angeles Lakers 103-94 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, evening the series at a game apiece.
How did the C's hold off Kobe Bryant and the defending champs, who were an impressive 9-0 in the postseason at STAPLES Center entering Sunday night's tilt?
Despite a horrific shooting night from Paul Pierce and a less-than-stellar showing from Kevin Garnett, the Green benefited from five major factors in pulling out a Game 2 victory.
Not that we needed further convincing, but future Hall of Famer Ray Allen cemented his place among the NBA's all-time great shooters with a huge Game 2 against the Purple and Gold.
The artist formerly known as Jesus Shuttlesworth hit a Finals record eight 3-pointers against the Lakers on Sunday, including seven in the first half, on his way to a game-high 32 points.
“We were playing on the edge, but Ray pulled us through it,” Boston point guard Rajon Rondo told reporters after the game. “We got through the first half. We took over the game. For me, personally, it was fun to watch. I just tried to give him the ball on time and on target when he needed it.”
In nearly 42 minutes of playing time, Boston's crafty point guard posted his fifth career playoff triple-double, netting 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
“The best part about getting a triple-double is getting a win,” Rondo told the Associated Press. “That’s pretty much it. It would be pointless to get a triple-double and lose the game.”
You'd never know it from this photo, but several of the Lakers' top front-liners were on the receiving end of some tough love from the referees on Sunday night.
Spark plug Ron Artest fouled out late in the fourth, while center Andrew Bynum and forward Lamar Odom were each whistled for five fouls apiece.
Arguably the world's greatest player, Kobe Bryant posted just 21 points on 8-for-20 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. Like several of his teammates, he, too, was plagued by foul trouble.
“It’s a series,” Bryant told reporters afterward. “You’re trying to stay even-keel. You don’t get too high, don’t get too low after a win or a loss. You just go into the next one and take care of business.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers saved his team from an untimely turnover with a key timeout call late in the fourth.
After Boston inbounded the ball under the L.A. basket with 1:26 left, the Lakers pressed defensively. With the 24-second shot clock ticking down — and the team struggling to advance the ball beyond halfcourt — Rivers so frantically signaled for a timeout that he nearly ran out onto the court.
He not only saved the team from a disastrous turnover as the C's clung to a narrow lead — a lead which they soon after added to with another hoop — but he offered his players a bit of comic relief as well.
“He claimed that he’s in shape, and when he ran out there we told him he looked like he wasn’t in shape,” Ray Allen said after the game. “But he made it out there, so it definitely got us an extra possession.”