Ray Allen went from hero to zero pretty fast, literally. He finished the night shooting 0-13, including 0-8 from 3-point territory- many of which were good looks. His only two points came from the charity stripe.
"No, it's a hell of a swing," said Doc Rivers when asked if he's seen a swing from one game to the next from one player like tonight.
"I thought he was pressing early on some of them, and honestly, I thought all of his shots looked flat tonight. I didn't think he had any legs ... of the 13, I thought eight of them were great looks, and all of them were short, all of them were flat. It happens to the best of us."
Allen is certainly one of the best, and you can bet tonight's game won't have an affect on Thursday night's game. One of the keys to being a great shooter is forgetting about the last game and focusing on the next.
"Preparation is the biggest key," Allen said. "You know I never hang my head. Tomorrow is always another opportunity to get right back on track but I have to take my hat off to them, they took away a lot of the easier looks I had from last time."
Ray took a knee to his thigh early in the game from Ron Artest. He was clearly in pain at the time but remained in the game. Asked whether or not that may have affected his shot in the game, Ray responded, "Yeah it did hurt, for sure." He was later asked the same question, and he responded, "It bothered me a little bit, you know, I'm sure it will bother me a little bit more tomorrow but I'll just work through it."
Another player who had a game he'd like to forget is Paul Pierce. Pierce failed to get any sort of rhythm going tonight, shooting 5-12 from the field for 15 points while grabbing only two rebounds. You could blame foul trouble for this, as Pierce was picked on early and often by the referees- something Kobe Bryant felt they did to him in Game 2.
"Every time [Pierce] came on the floor, another whistle blows and he had to sit down," Rivers said. "He was completely taken out of the game by foul calls. I'll give Artest credit when he deserves it, but today it was more that Pail Pierce had to sit on the bench. He'd play five minutes, have to go back down, four minutes, and have to sit."
Pierce didn't use his foul trouble as an excuse for his performance tonight, instead admitting that he did in fact miss some good looks in the first half. He did, however, comment on the team as a whole, especially down the stretch.
"It seemed like when we got to two, three points with the ball, we'd come down, turn it over, offensive fouls," said Pierce ... "It just seemed like we turned the ball pretty much over every time."
"When you have these types of games- when it's tight- down the stretch you've got to execute [and] the littlest plays can be the difference winning and losing," Pierce said.
The Celtics were down by as many as 17 points, but clawed all the way back to get it to within one. They could simply not get over the hump, as Derek Fisher continuously kept them out of reach- scoring 11 of his 16 points in the 4th quarter.
The one starter who did play well tonight was Kevin Garnett. Garnett looked as good as he has all postseason, ending the night with 25 points on 11-16 shooting from the field, and six rebounds. While nobody else on the Celtics really stepped up offensively, they failed to get him the ball enough either.
"We talked about 20 shots before the game," Rivers said. "He shot 16, should have had 25 as far as I was concerned. I thought there were a lot of times we still should have gotten the ball to him. I didn't think we had a lot of great ball movement tonight."
Unlike Pierce or Allen, Garnett was able to get into the zone early on in the game, and the rest just took care of itself.
"Tonight was just a rhythm night for me," said Garnett. "Like I said, it flowed. I went with it. Doc pulled me aside after Game 1 and told me to stay aggressive. Different series', different players are going to be big nights; certain guys are going to have a better flow."
It was certainly a good flow for one Celtics player again tonight, but unlike in Game 2, the Celtics couldn't capitalize on it.
"But you know, one of the things I told our team, Game 2, Ray had it," said Rivers. "We did a great job of getting it to Ray. Game 3, Kevin had it. I didn't think we did as good of a job getting it to Kevin."
The Celtics obviously cannot afford to go down 1-3 in the series against the Lakers. They know this, and will undoubtedly come out with that sense of urgency that they have shown throughout the playoffs.
"We definitely have to ball out in Game 4," said Ray Allen, "but, you know, that's a challenge that we all look forward to."