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Sports

April 21, 2009

Ray of hope

Allen helps Celtics avert playoff disaster

BOSTON — Ray Allen looked like he was shot out of a gun. As soon as he reached the top of the key, he caught the ball, rose up over Joakim Noah and released. The high-arching jumper fell through the net cleanly with two seconds on the clock.

¬ The 3-pointer, which came off a Rajon Rondo feed, gave Boston a 118-115 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in front of a full house at TD Banknorth Garden. Allen — 30 points, six treys — kept his team afloat last night.

¬ His performance was the most spectacular aspect of a spectacular contest. Like Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird in 1988 and Paul Pierce and LeBron James in 2008, Allen and fellow University of Connecticut alum Ben Gordon staged a playoff duel.

¬ "I'll talk about it over the summer and I'll laugh with him about it," said Allen, whose club tied the series 1-1. "But you know, we were exchanging jabs there, and I don't mean shots, I mean he caught me with an elbow. I got him right back with an elbow. It was just ... competitive." ¬ 

¬ On the 23-year anniversary of Michael Jordan's 63-point performance against the Celtics, Gordon poured in 42 points, including a 16-footer that tied the game at 115 with 12 seconds to go. But like, Mike, LeBron and Dominique before him, Gordon fell victim to the Celtics, who somehow found a way to prevail.

¬ "I pray that Danny Ainge didn't watch this game," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of his boss, who's recovering from a minor heart attack.

The 33-year-old Allen needed this one. He went 1 for 12 and scored four points in Game 1. For a while, Game 2 wasn't looking much better. He only scored one basket in the first half.

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