Celtics notebook

Shaken after a rough ride

Point guard Rajon Rondo heads upcourt with the ball after a strip of the Pistons’ Jason Maxiell (rear) in the first half. Point guard Rajon Rondo heads upcourt with the ball after a strip of the Pistons’ Jason Maxiell (rear) in the first half. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / March 16, 2010

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The scene wasn’t exactly the same as the frantic airborne “I love you . . . I hate you . . . I killed a man . . . I’m gay’’ confessional among dysfunctional Stillwater band members as a lightning storm appeared to take down their plane, but in a season that’s had its on-court turbulence, this was the Celtics “Almost Famous’’ moment.

After a 104-93 loss at Cleveland Sunday afternoon, the Celtics hopped on a plane to Boston. The flight, however, was less than smooth.

“It was horrible,’’ said Glen Davis.

The trip was nothing out of the ordinary until the end, Davis said, describing the rough ride with arm movements and sound effects.

“We were over the wind before we got there,’’ Davis said. “Then when we started to get to Boston, you kind of felt like . . .’’

He stopped, extended his arms and waved them erratically as if a plane were wobbling wildly from side to side.

“Then when we started to land, when the wheels came down, it was like, “Whoa!’’

The flight landed as scheduled around 9:30 p.m. Tony Allen said it wasn’t even close to the worst flight he’s been on in his five years as a Celtic, referring to the 2004-05 season, when a flight to New York turned sour.

“The plane felt like it cut off,’’ Allen said. “Seriously, it didn’t feel like it was flying. It felt like it was going down for like a good solid, one, two, three, four seconds. Then it just [sounded like it shut down]. Then, it had a little shake to it. Then, it started flying again, it felt like.’’

By comparison, Sunday’s flight was mild. “That was probably the scariest one,’’ Allen said. “The one last night was just a regular flight, I think.’’

Up and down
At one point, with the Celtics plugging hole after hole because of injuries, Tony Allen was Johnny on the spot, filling in at both guard spots while playing lock-up defense on everyone from Kobe Bryant to Dwyane Wade to Caron Butler.

His minutes have been sporadic this month, playing as many as 22 against Charlotte but sitting all game Sunday. He had 2 points in 7 minutes last night.

“One minute you’re starting, running point guard,’’ Allen said. “I don’t know. It puzzles me, but for the most part I look at it like everything’s for the team.’’

The additions of Nate Robinson and Mike Finley seem to have dropped Allen in the rotation, but Allen, a free agent this summer, said he’ll continue to wait until his name is called.

“I’m always ready,’’ he said. “I’m a dog. I’m always ready to bite.’’

Accepting challenge
Asked to describe this season’s experience, Doc Rivers chose a word no one expected: enjoyable.

“It’s a group that you’ve had to get your hands dirty,’’ Rivers said. “You’ve had to dive into this group, push buttons, get on guys that you never thought you would have to. In some ways it’s been a very joyous challenge. This has been a very challenging year.’’

Pistons coach John Kuester, an assistant to Larry Brown with the 2004 NBA champion Pistons, can relate, particularly this season, when Rivers is trying to lead a veteran group.

“Any coach’s concern, which Doc has done a great job with this group, is making sure that you don’t turn it on and off, thinking that once the playoffs come you can push a button,’’ Kuester said.

Scary scene
Seeing guard Rodney Stuckey collapse on the bench in a loss to Cleveland March 5, Kuester couldn’t help but flash back nearly two decades, when Reggie Lewis, just 27 and having just finished his sixth season, collapsed during an offseason practice and died of a structural heart defect.

Kuester spent four years coaching at Boston University in the 1980s, then two more with the Celtics in the mid-’90s. Stuckey missed his fifth straight game last night, but Kuester said he would work him back into practice in the coming days.

“It was very scary when it happened,’’ Kuester said. “You’re always concerned about your players and when you see something like that happen you want to make sure they’re OK. And I think Rodney is.

“The Stuckey thing scared everybody. We all know the history of Hank Gathers [the Loyola Marymount star who collapsed on the court and died in 1990] and Reggie Lewis. Not one guy here, when they said that they cleared him to play, felt comfortable with that. We don’t even know the medical part of that, we just know the history of that.’’

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