Pierce came through with another 30-point effort, while Allen once again played the familiar role of fourth-quarter assassin, knocking down crucial shots in the final frame and capping things off with a pivotal 3-pointer from the left corner with 35.4 seconds left, putting the Celtics ahead by two, 84-82, and fulfilling their latest comeback effort, this time from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Ray Allen's clutch play down the stretch was instrumental in Boston's comeback win over the Rockets on Tuesday.
Allen finished the game with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, but 11 of those came in the fourth quarter and overtime, as he struggled with his shot through the opening three quarters, converting on just three of his nine field goal attempts.
"I had a couple early in the game that didn't go in for me, and I was watching how they were guarding me," Allen said after the game. "So as the fourth quarter came along, every time I got the ball, I knew they were trying to run me off the 3, so I said, 'This 3 is going to be on my terms.'"
The 3 in question was Allen's biggest shot of the night, as he found himself open in the left corner, took a feed from Brandon Bass and buried the shot to put the C's up by two, capping off a 14-2 Boston run that saw them overcome an 80-70 deficit with just over 5½ minutes remaining.
"When [Courtney] Lee jumped at me, I was going to pump-fake him and let him fly by me, just like one of my favorite movies, 'Top Gun,'" Allen joked. "Put on the brakes and let him fly by."
In a game lacking a consistent string of energy, the Celtics gained a needed boost when Allen knocked down two shots with under five minutes to go. The first was a jumper to the left of the free throw line with 4:43 remaining, and the second came in transition, as Allen broke free and tore up the floor, taking a pass from Rajon Rondo and weaving around Houston guard Goran Dragic, for the layup and the foul.
Allen said he couldn't credit one specific basket for sparking his late-game rhythm, and instead praised the renewed energy his team was playing with, which was generated primarily on the defensive end of the floor.
"I can't say that there was one [shot that got me going,]" Allen said afterward. "It's really just how the team plays. When we move the ball around and we get stops and we run in transition, and the ball's hopping, it's like, 'Hey, it's a party out here. Everybody get involved. There's a new dance, everybody's doing it, let's get involved.' When we're playing like that, I think it just juices my body up."
Allen had a chance to win the game at the tail end of regulation with the score knotted at 84, but even after he maneuvered to the right wing and found himself wide open, he was unable to get his shot to fall.
"[The play] was designed for Kevin [Garnett] or Ray," C's head coach Doc Rivers said afterward. "I thought Ray was open on the first part of it, and we were late getting it to him. He was wide open. And then he actually got a great shot anyway. Listen, Ray Allen wide open at the elbow, I'm going to take that."
Allen would respond in overtime, though, by scoring Boston's first basket on a slick up-and-under layup along the baseline, and then silencing the Rockets for good with two free throws with 18 seconds left that gave the C's their final five-point edge.