- Peter May, Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com
- 0 Shares
BOSTON -- He ended the suspense before the game was 11 minutes old. In that first 10 minutes, 12 seconds, Ray Allen attempted five 3-pointers. He needed to make only two of them.
He connected on his first with 4:14 left in the period. The record-breaking second came 2 minutes, 26 seconds later, a launch from the right side on a fast break off a Von Wafer steal. Rajon Rondo got the assist.
As records go, this one was pretty predictable. Needing only two 3-pointers to overtake Reggie Miller as the NBA's career leader in 3-point field goals, Allen was as close as you can get to a mortal lock. As if to drive that home, his family was all there to see him, including the two women who know him best -- his mother, Flo, and his wife, Shannon.
It was Flo who raised her son in and around various Army outposts, telling him, "If you want something badly, then you have to put the work into it." She was seated in the front row, on the baseline, wearing a white Celtics jersey with the No. 20 and the name "Mom Allen" on the back.
It is Shannon who now presides over La Maison Allen, making sure her husband has his proper rest and, before every game, has a dinner of baked chicken thighs, steamed rice and a green vegetable. "Right now, we're going with broccoli,'' she said. "Sometimes it's asparagus."
Shannon Allen went on. "Doesn't everybody realize that this record was 25 years in the making, when his parents got him playing at the age of 10 and instilled all those habits he still has today? Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes history. No one is an overnight success. He's been doing this for 25 years."
Ray Allen talked at length about setting the record before Thursday's game, which the Celtics lost 92-86 to the Lakers. He wanted to be sure his pursuit didn't take away from the importance of the occasion. This wasn't the Nets or Timberwolves. This was the only Boston visit of the defending champs, and the Celtics were undermanned at both the center and swing positions.
But if Allen didn't want to inject his individual situation into the game at hand, it was hard to envision it happening any other way. There were signs in the crowd ("Ray-ning Threes!"). Allen said he felt a mood of anticipation that he had not felt three nights earlier in Charlotte.
"The stage was set,'' he said. "Everyone was ready."
No one more so than No. 20. He took nine shots in the first quarter, five of them 3-pointers. He didn't attempt another 3 until the third quarter.
The fifth try was the charm. Wafer stripped the ball from Shannon Brown and got it to Rondo, who found a wide-open Allen on the right wing, a few feet from the Celtics' bench.
"It was almost like slow motion,'' Allen said. "I could see the whole play developing. That's how it felt. I said to myself, 'This is it.' I knew what Rondo was thinking. I know he knows where I am. I knew it was good. I said, 'This is money.' It was definitely a magical moment."
The basket gave the Celtics a 22-14 lead. Allen clenched his right hand and gave a triumphant swing, showing more emotion on one play than he usually does in one month. When time stopped 22 seconds later on a foul on Kendrick Perkins, Allen went over and hugged Miller, who has been ever-gracious watching Allen's pursuit of his record.
"All records are made to be broken,'' Miller told his TNT television audience. "This is one of the best guys. So humble. So giving. A great family man."
At the end of the quarter, there were Allen family hugs all around. Public address announcer Eddie Palladino told the crowd what it already knew, resulting in a prolonged standing ovation that extended into the second quarter. Allen, who acknowledged the applause with a raised left arm, said the whole thing made him feel a bit awkward.
"I've never had a moment that was mine,'' he said. "I've always shared it because this is a team game. I asked Reggie before the game, 'What do I do? Sit there and look stupid?' He said, 'Do whatever you think you should do. It's your moment.'"
Allen made one more 3-pointer, in the fourth quarter, but spent more time than normal on the bench after picking up his fourth foul midway through the third. Doc Rivers said he thought the fouls affected Allen's rhythm.
Then Allen had to contend with a rested, rejuvenated Kobe Bryant in the fourth quarter, and that was no contest. Afterward, Bryant lauded Allen, saying, "It's an unbelievable accomplishment. It's a testament to all the hard work he has put in."
Allen, 35, later said that he felt so good physically "that I feel like I could go forever." He ended up leading the Celtics with 20 points and, despite the foul trouble, played 35-plus minutes. He shows no signs of slowing down or letting up.
But what started out as his evening ended up being the Lakers' night. The air of celebration turned somber as L.A. methodically wore down the short-handed hosts.
Yes, Allen left TD Garden as the career leader in 3-point baskets. And Miller probably was right when he noted, "I'm not sure anyone is ever going to get close" to whatever number Allen ends up making. After all, No. 3 Jason Kidd is about 800 behind Allen (and, presumably, closer to retirement).
Allen got what the crowd wanted. The Lakers got what they wanted. The record endures. But, at the end of this season, the result, not the record, could well be much more important.
Longtime Celtics reporter Peter May is a contributor to ESPNBoston.com.
3hMichael C. Wright