By Mark Whicker
The Orange County Register
BOSTON -- This, Ray Allen said, is why you stay humble if you're a shooter. Not to say that all that many shooters do.
For all his adult life and most of his adolescence, Allen's wrist has been the surest thing on whatever court he occupied. The stroke, they call it.
In his regular season career he has made 2,444 three-point shots, at a percentage of 39.6.
When it's going in, Allen is almost into his backpedal before the ball swishes through. When it isn't, he's anxiously moving to where the rebound might be, or he's twisting like a golfer on the tee when he sees a drive headed toward the foliage.
In L.A. on Sunday night, Allen set the NBA Finals record for most consecutive three-pointers and most three-pointers made. In Boston on Tuesday night Allen went 0 for 13 from the floor. That's from the two-point and the three-point areas.
The Celtics won Sunday night. They lost here, 91-84, and now the Lakers lead the series, 2-1, and, at the very least, will bring the series back to Staples Center.
Had Allen gone 0 for 0 the Celtics would have shot 32 for 60. He did have two points on free throws, but he missed all 8 bombs he tried.
"Ray Allen is not going to go 0 for 13 for the whole series," teammate Tony Allen predicted. "He just had one of those nights that shooters have."
"I went 3 for 24 once, in college," said Wisconsin alum and veteran NBA basket-launcher Michael Finley. "It's just part of shooting. I thought the shots Ray was trying were going in."
So did Allen. He is not wired to believe anything else, of course, especially not after he hit 8 of 11 3's in L.A. and scored 27 points in the first half.
Here he was outscored by Derek Fisher, 16-2. Odds are that if Fisher continues to outscore Allen by 14 points, and especially if he follows his lifetime habit of pulling his opponents' teeth without benefit of Novocain in the fourth quarter, the Lakers will repeat as NBA champions.
"I thought those shots were going in," Allen said, after a long decompression period in the training room. He ducked in and out of a couple of rooms, running the media off screens, until he finally came out, dressed impeccably and trying to look undisturbed.
"I do think the Lakers did a better job of coming out on me," he said. "I didn't get the open looks that I did in the first game. I missed the first couple of shots. Then they got their hands on a couple more. I know Pau Gasol got one. As the game went on I kept shooting and kept coming up short. I never felt like I was out of rhythm."
"The whole key to coming back from that is preparation," he said. "I'll come back tomorrow and look at the tape and see what they did."
What both teams did was defile the game of basketball for most of four quarters. Bryant missed 19 of 29 shots and kicked Tony Allen in the neck, right after Allen got cut in the lip while coming off an Andrew Bynum pick and needed eight stitches.
"He kicks his leg out when he shoots," T. Allen said. "I'm not real happy about that."
The Celtics were whistled for 27 fouls, seven more than the Lakers, and spent most of the second half in a seamless team tantrum. Somehow they avoided technical fouls, but they also cast aside their composure while the Lakers were shooting 2 of 15 from the 3-point line.
The Lakers led by 17 and watched the Celtics close to one point behind in the fourth quarter, but Fisher, by force of habit if nothing else, kept propping them up. At one point he took a charge from the 289-pound Glen "Big Baby" Davis, and at 35 years old he somehow went coast-to-coast for a killing layup.
"I don't know who was supposed to have him on that play," Davis said. "We thought he might pull up."
"He also played Ray real physical, got into him a lot more than he did the first game," T. Allen said.
"He just played big," Rajon Rondo said. "He had answers every time."
The Lakers got 5 for 5 shooting from the previously dormant Lamar Odom, and they got 29 minutes of gumption from Andrew Bynum, who had 10 rebounds despite dragging his knee behind him like a wayward suitcase.
There has been no snapshot moment in three games of these Finals, other than the ones Fisher has been delivering since the days of Polaroid.
The only constant is the manufactured noise that throbs its way through every arena in the league. Otherwise, Ray Allen's string music in L.A. turned into rim shots in Boston, in a Finals that is better heard than seen.