- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BOSTON (AP) - Ray Allen and Ben Gordon can reminisce this offseason about their playoff shootout.

For one of the former UConn guards, his team’s offseason will last longer than he’d like.

Allen kept the Boston Celtics from coming dangerously close to being that team when he broke out of a slump to score 30 points, including the decisive 3-pointer with 2 seconds left. That gave the defending NBA champions a 118-115 win over the Bulls on Monday night and a split of the first two games of the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is in Chicago on Thursday night.

“I’ll talk about it over the summertime and I’ll laugh with him about it,” Allen said. “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.”

Gordon is in his fifth NBA season, eight fewer than Allen, but they’ve faced each other in summer pickup games at their old school.

“UConn has a lot of great professionals,” Gordon said, “so anytime you play against someone from UConn you just want to go out there and outdo them. It’s like a game within the game.”

Gordon outscored Allen with 42 points exactly 23 years after Michael Jordan set an NBA playoff record with 63. But the Celtics beat the Bulls then, too, 135-131 in double overtime.

Gordon’s last basket came with 12.3 seconds left, tying the score at 115. Then the Celtics set up a play for Allen, who took a pass from Rajon Rondo and connected from the right side.

Allen scored 28 of his 30 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.”

After Tyrus Thomas missed a shot from midcourt as time expired, Allen headed for the 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.

“We feel very confident because we feel like we haven’t even played good basketball yet,” Boston’s Paul Pierce said. “Our best is yet to come.”

But that will have to come in Chicago.

“We got a split and that’s tough to do against the defending champs,” Gordon said.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Gordon gave the Bulls a 109-104 lead before the Celtics rallied. Glen Davis made two free throws and Rondo connected on a long jumper to give Boston a 112-111 lead with 1:01 to play.

Gordon followed with a 16-foot jumper and Allen countered with a 3-pointer that put Boston ahead 115-113 with 25.3 seconds remaining.

Then it was Gordon’s turn. He connected from near the foul line before the Celtics called a timeout to set up their final play.

Rondo dribbled on the left side and Allen worked himself free, caught the pass in rhythm and converted as the crowd went wild.

Davis had 26 points for second-seeded Boston and Rondo had a triple-double _ 19 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds. Pierce added 18 points and Kendrick Perkins contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds.

John Salmons had 17 points and Brad Miller scored 16 for Chicago.

The Allen-Gordon shootout “almost looked like they turned it into a personal battle,” Rivers said. “You know, who’s the best UConn player to ever play. And it was amazing.”

Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro cited the Celtics’ rebounding as a key to their win.

“They had 21 offensive rebounds,” he said, “and it’s going to be hard to win any game, not even a playoff game, if you give up that many offensive rebounds.”

The Celtics nearly lost despite controlling rookie point guard Derrick Rose, who sat out most of the first quarter with two fouls. He finished with 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds after leading the Bulls with 36 points and 11 assists on Saturday.

Spurs 105, Mavericks 84

At San Antonio, Tony Parker had 38 points and eight assists to help the Spurs even their first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Dallas was trying to send the Spurs to consecutive home playoff losses for the first time since 2002 but couldn’t contain Parker, who had 27 points in the first half.

Jason Terry finished with 16 points for Dallas, which suffered one of the worst losses in the playoff rivalry.

The Mavericks beat the Spurs 105-97 on Saturday night for their first road playoff victory in three years. But it was hardly rare territory for San Antonio: The Spurs have come back to win four series after losing Game 1 since 2002.

They put together a convincing response in the second game and the frustration for Dallas could be seen all the way down its bench. Mavs owner Mark Cuban punched a water cooler as San Antonio pulled away in the fourth.

The Mavericks haven’t won a playoff series since 2006. Winning the opener was a start, but they’ll have to figure out another way to stop Parker in Game 3.

Parker finished 16-of-22 from the field. He had 19 points in the first quarter alone, equaling the Mavericks’ total.

Game 3 is Thursday in Dallas.

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