LOS ANGELES (AP) -Ray Allen couldn't carry the Big Three by himself.
Allen broke out with 25 points - his second-best game of the playoffs so far - but Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett struggled to keep up on Tuesday night as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 87-81 in Game 3 of the NBA finals.
The Celtics won the first two games in Boston, but the Lakers held serve when the series moved West and have a chance to tie it at home on Thursday.
To stop them, the Celtics will need a better game from Pierce, a native of the Los Angeles area playing his first playoff game in his hometown. He fell into foul trouble early and never got going, missing his first five shots and going 2-for-14 in all while managing to stay on the court just 32 minutes.
Garnett wasn't much better.
He missed his first seven shots and finished 6-for-21, with 13 points. Garnett also had 12 rebounds and five assists while making a few key shots to give the Celtics a short-lived lead in the third quarter.
But it didn't last.
Garnett's only success came in the third quarter, when he scored on a baby hook in the lane to tie the game 49-all with 5:50 left. Next time down, he hit a baseline jumper on an assist from Pierce to give the Celtics the lead.
But the Lakers came back and pulled away down the stretch, with Pierce and Garnett passing up shots to get the ball to reserve Eddie House.
Pierce made just his second basket of the game with 3:53 left, driving and drawing a foul on Kobe Bryant; Pierce missed the free throw that could have cut the deficit to four points. The Lakers led 78-72 when Pierce did make a couple of free throws, and Garnett banked in a one-hander to make it 78-76.
But Sasha Vujacic hit a 3-pointer, and Bryant made a pair of jumpers down the stretch to ice it.
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