The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who says you should never let friends drink and drive. Or go home with an ugly chick. Unless he has a really great personality. When he's not giving bad advice, he can be found doing the thing at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
It's just like a Whitney Houston song. Only cool. Ray Allen has had a hard few weeks since his jump shot left him for Jason Kapono. There have been tears. There have been regrets. One night, Ray-Ray was so upset he brushed and flossed his teeth only seven times before going to bed, and his early morning finger-tapping sequence — all five, then the middle three, then finally his middle finger — was all out of whack. But now that his jump shot has returned from its little tryst, Ray's Obsessive-compulsive Disorder is back on track...and so is his game. And that sound you just heard was a collective "Hallelujah!" from his coaches and teammates.
Allen scored a playoff-high 29 points on 9-for-15 shooting — including 5-for-6 from over the rainbow — and he hit a Charles-Barkley's-ass-sized shot with a minute to go to fend of a furious Piston rally that had cut a huge Celtic lead to one. And thanks to this blissful reunion, Boston won 106-102 and is now a single game from returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since those halcyon days when shorts were so short that an overly enthusiastic dunk might expose a random testicle. Wow. Didn't know I was going there...
Kevin Garnett had 33 points (his playoff-best for this year) and Kendrick "The Beast" Perkins played like it, going off for career playoff-highs in points (18) and rebounds (16) ... which Detroit coach Flip Saunders to say: "Perkins is eating us up." (Should we change his nickname to "Pacman"? Or is that taken?)
The Celtics' honor roll continued with Rajon Rondo (7 points, 13 assists, 4 steals) and Paul Pierce (13 of his 16 points in the first half, 5 rebounds, 6 assists). And it's a damned good thing that all their starters played so well, considering they got a sum total of 3 points from their bench (including a Super Mario! from Eddie House).
Considering their defense got shelled (51 percent shooting for Boston), and they got gangbanged on the boards (42-25), the Pistons were lucky to even be in the game at the end. But after building a 17-point third-quarter lead, the Celtics pulled out the prevent defense they used in Game 3 with similar effect: Detroit went on a 21-8 fourth quarter run that cut the lead to four with just under five minutes to go. Rodney Stuckey — who hit a big three-pointer to draw the Pistons within one with 1:22 to go — accidentally hit a foul shot he meant to miss (so Detroit could get it back) with about 4 seconds left. You really should have seen the look on his face; it was classic. KG then finished things off with a couple free throws.
Chauncey Billups led the Pistons with 26 points and 6 assists. Rip Hamilton, who strained his right elbow in the closing ticks, had 25 points, 6 assists, and 6 turnovers. And Rasheed Wallace added 18 points and his sixth technical fouls of the postseason (Said 'Sheed: "A lot of those foul calls, cats were flopping and falling all over the floor!").
Game 6 is Friday in Motown.