Boston Ray Allen landed the final blow in a memorable duel with Ben Gordon on Monday night, shooting the Boston Celtics back into their first-round series.
Allen made a tiebreaking three-pointer with two seconds left and finished with 30 points, leading the Celtics a 118-115 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Gordon nearly carried Chicago to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. He scored with 12.3 seconds left to tie it, the final hoop of his playoff-career-high 42 points. Then Boston set up a play for Allen, who took a pass from Rajon Rondo and connected from the right side.
Allen scored 28 points after getting some advice from coach Doc Rivers at halftime.
“Doc said going into the half, ‘Be aggressive, but let it come to you,”’ Allen said. “I never think I’m not in my rhythm. It can be a grind as a shooter. As a scorer you’re always trying to find something.”
Allen and Gordon each had several clutch baskets in the second half as the former University of Connecticut guards battled for control of the game. After Tyrus Thomas missed a shot from midcourt as time expired, Allen headed for his bench, where injured Kevin Garnett delivered a couple of congratulatory slaps — to his head and chest.
Allen said he doesn’t like “being made a fuss over.” But that was unavoidable after he broke out of his shooting slump. He scored just four points on 1-for-12 shooting and missed the final shot in Chicago’s 105-103 overtime win Saturday.
“It felt like we were at UConn in the summertime playing pickup,” Gordon said. “He is a great shooter, and I knew he would break out eventually.”