Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 19 assists, and Boston outscored Cleveland by 19 during a big third quarter to earn a 104-86 victory over the Cavaliers to even their Eastern Conference semifinal series after two games.
Ray Allen scored 10 of his team-high 22 points in the third quarter for Boston, which bounced back from a 101-93 loss in the opener. Kevin Garnett added 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Rasheed Wallace went 7-of-8 from the field for 17 points off the bench. Paul Pierce scored 14 in the win.
"The third quarter in Game 1 we were passive," Garnett said. "Tonight we were very aggressive on both ends. We rebounded collectively. There were a lot of positive things tonight."
LeBron James was presented his second straight MVP trophy by commissioner David Stern in a ceremony prior to the game and ended with 24 points, 12 of them coming in the last quarter.
Antawn Jamison had 16 points for the Cavaliers, who fell behind by 25 points before scoring 15 in a row in the fourth quarter. They never got within single digits in the final period and dropped only their second playoff home game in the last 15 tries.
"We did not play with a sense of urgency," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "We tried the last few minutes of the game. They kicked our behind from the beginning. We did not fight back until late. We have to decide we're going to take the fight to them and take these games. Nothing's going to be given to us."
Rondo equaled a franchise-record for assists in a playoff game, set by Bob Cousy on two occasions.
"I was just trying to take advantage of the opportunities in front of me," Rondo said. "In transition, that's where I think I have my advantage, getting rebounds and getting stops. I'm able to use my speed and able to use my ability to get to the hole and create mismatches in the lane."
The best-of-seven series shifts to Boston for Game 3 Friday.
The Cleveland backcourt starting tandem of Anthony Parker and Mo Williams combined for 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting.
Boston was ahead by four at the half, but then shot 10-of-17 in the third quarter, while the Cavs were just 5-of-16. Rondo's steal and layup extended the lead to 64-53 with 7:43 left in the quarter.
The Celtics actually scored 11 in a row at one point for an 80-57 difference following a Kendrick Perkins hook shot with 2:16 remaining. It was 83-60 going to the fourth.
Garnett's put-back layup provided a 91-66 difference with 9:08 to go, but the Cavs held Boston without a point over the next 5 1/2 minutes. The Celtics had multiple turnovers, including a shot clock violation to allow Cleveland to get back in the game. Two free throws from Delonte West capped the burst for a 91-81 game with 4:33 left.
The Cavs missed on a chance to cut the deficit to seven when Jamison missed a three-pointer, and a big offensive rebound helped Boston stem the tide. Pierce was off the mark on a three-pointer, but Rondo secured the rebound and Pierce knifed into the lane for a layup.
James, fighting through an injured right elbow, hit a layup to cut it back to 10, but he missed the following foul shot. Ensuing buckets by Rondo and Allen deflated the Cavs and the Celtics widened the margin in the closing minutes.
"I'll never use the injury as an excuse," James said. "If I'm on the court I'll try to be as productive as possible. I feel like tonight I was okay, but as a team all of us were just okay, that's why we lost."
Boston shot 10-of-15 in the first quarter and led 26-22 after a back-and-forth opening 12 minutes. The Celtics scored the first nine points of the second, capped by Tony Allen's layup, but Jamison's three-ball finished a big Cleveland push for a 40-39 deficit with 5:12 to go. It was 52-48 at the half.
This was just the third road win in the last 21 such occurrences in this series (regular and postseason games)....Shaquille O'Neal was limited to nine points and four rebounds for Cleveland, which shot 4-of-21 from three-point range...J.J. Hickson scored 13 for the Cavs, while Perkins ended with 10 points and nine boards....Boston shot 51.3 percent from the field, including going 9-of-19 from beyond the arc.