Sunday Basketball notes

Old reliable Allen will shoot past Miller soon

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / January 16, 2011

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There are only two members of the 2,000 Club.

Reggie Miller made 2,560 3-pointers.

Ray Allen has made 2,530.

And when the Magic face the Celtics tomorrow night under the bright lights at TD Garden, Miller will watch as Allen comes closer to supplanting him in the top spot.

It’s something Miller has resigned himself to for years, and it’s going to happen soon. Allen, at 35, is still considered the game’s premier outside shooter, and he has slowly worked his way toward Miller’s record since joining the Celtics in 2007.

With Seattle in 2005-06, Allen attempted a whopping 8.4 per game as he broke Dennis Scott’s single-season record by sinking 269 3-pointers. As a Celtic, he has attempted 5.6 per game, including 4.6 this year.

Allen’s consistent technique and work ethic have turned Miller, now a TNT analyst, into one of his biggest cheerleaders. Great 3-point shooters don’t exist much anymore. In fact, Jason Kidd, never considered a great perimeter shooter, just passed Dale Ellis for third all-time and has 1,723, more a sign of longevity than marksmanship.

Miller and Allen are similar players, long-range shooters who played deep into their 30s and remained major scoring threats. But in a generation in which 7-footers pull up for 3-pointers off the break, why are elite shooters so rare? Miller has strong opinions.

“Because I think guys are satisfied once they get to the league, truthfully,’’ Miller said. “To a certain degree, I understand that because once you get to the NBA, it’s like you’ve exhaled: ‘Hey, I’ve made it.’

“No, you haven’t made it. This is when it’s time to work, because at this level, everybody is probably as good or better than you are. You look at Ray, you look at Paul [Pierce], you look at Kevin Garnett, they came in at a time where you put your time in the gym. I don’t think any of the Big Three ever exhaled.’’

Allen was not a prolific 3-point shooter upon his arrival in the NBA. As a rookie, he converted only 117. But just five years later, he drained 229.

As Allen slashed and dunked less, he learned the art of creating space for 3-point attempts. He ran tirelessly around screens, raced to spots before defenses were set, and learned to launch shots on fast breaks.

“It’s such a lost developmental skill, and to see someone do it at such a late age, being a shooting guard that has to play other shooting guards,’’ Miller said. “To be able to get your offense off and still have a crisp, clean jump shot at the end of it, it shows you how much this guy has taken care of his body and how much time he has put in to probably become one of the best shooters ever.’’

Allen recalls his freshman season at the University of Connecticut, when he watched teammates Donyell Marshall and Scott Burrell swish 3-pointers while he was building brick houses with his. He determined then that long-range shooting would his primary focus.

“I tell Von Wafer all the time, being a great 3-point shooter doesn’t mean that you always shoot threes,’’ said Allen. “That’s your weapon and that’s what you do. And you use it to do other things. You use it to make other people better.

“Shooting is art. To be able to make shots over and over again, you have to be good at what you do.’’

Miller said he began shooting 3-pointers as a teenager because he was skinny and thus timid about banging in the paint, but wanted to become an offensive threat.

“Don’t ever say ‘luck,’ ’’ said Miller. “Luck is doing it occasionally. When you do it every single night, when your team needs a three or a big basket from long range and to do it continuously, that’s preparation.

“That’s coming to the gym three, four hours before the game when guys are on vacations in St. Barts or Cabo or Hawaii. That’s being in the gym at 8, 9 o’clock in the morning, knocking down 500-1,000 shots.’’

As Miller has become more removed from the game as a player and more meticulous as an analyst, he has gained more of an appreciation for Allen. He said he has no issue giving up his record and places himself and Allen in an exclusive group of pure shooters, a group that isn’t likely to expand soon.

“Since he’s been out, he’s been more of an advocate for me and what I do,’’ Allen said. “He keeps me on track.

“It’s never been about a record. He tells me, ‘You’re a shooter. You go out and shoot. Don’t be distracted by what people say.’

“Now this has drawn us even closer. Like any record, when the record is broken, it always pays homage to the person who held it and what they meant to the game.’’

Cousins rough around edges Although he looks and plays like a grown man and has a glare that would make him a good choice to play B.A. Baracus in an “A-Team’’ movie, DeMarcus Cousins (above) just turned 20 years old in August, and his transition from college standout to NBA rookie has been rough, to say the least.

The Kings center has clashed with coach Paul Westphal on more than one occasion and was suspended one game for making a “choke’’ sign to Golden State’s Reggie Williams after Williams missed a key free throw in the fourth quarter of a close game.

Scouts and other people around the Kentucky program warned interested teams about Cousins’s attitude before last year’s draft, but his upside was too enticing to pass on. Entering last night, he was averaging 12.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in just 26.2minutes per game, his playing time limited because of foul trouble.

Those numbers measure up favorably with some of the first years of recent standout post men: Dwight Howard was 12.0 and 10.0, Andrew Bogut 9.4 and 7.0, Al Horford 10.1 and 9.7, Amar’e Stoudemire 13.5 and 8.8, and LaMarcus Aldridge 9.0 and 5.0. But there is serious concern as to whether Cousins himself will be the primary obstacle between him and greatness.

“It’s everything I expected so far,’’ he said. “I knew there would be ups and downs. I knew it would be tough, a learning process. I think I’m starting to find my own way.

“I think I could be doing a lot better, but it’s a process.’’

As a franchise, the Kings are a mess. They have arena issues and are flirting with a relocation to Anaheim. Last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year, guard Tyreke Evans, has had constant foot pain and may need surgery. Players such as Jason Thompson, Omri Casspi, and Donte Greene haven’t developed as quickly as expected.

It’s one thing if a team has a bunch of young talent, but when the young players aren’t that good, the situation can turn hopeless. The Kings are trying to avoid that. Cousins and a healthy Evans will help.

“It is hard to stay positive because this losing is very frustrating,’’ Cousins said. “But it’s part of becoming a better pro.’’

Westphal understood that Cousins would be stubborn and enigmatic, and the veteran coach has alternated roles of mentor, motivator, and disciplinarian.

“The words ‘DeMarcus Cousins’ and ‘blending in’ usually don’t go together,’’ Westphal said with a laugh. “I think you are the first guy to use them in the same sentence.

“He’s passionate and doing a great job of becoming a pro. And really that’s what we are asking him, to keep doing whatever he can to learn from whatever experiences are thrown his way. We have a lot of faith in him.

“He’s really a very kind, gentle person with a temper and passion for the game. He’s got a lot of potential and he’s in a hurry to fulfill it.’’

Cousins said the surly tag bothers him because it’s more a byproduct of his lack of emotion and stoic facial expression. Following last week’s loss to the Celtics, Cousins was joking with reporters about guarding Shaquille O’Neal, saying, “Man, he just stands there and I can’t get around either side of him. And he wasn’t even trying to set a screen.

“I’m not comfortable with the fact they think I’m [angry] off the court. It is tough to hear the comments and see the negative publicity and knowing I’m not that type of person. That’s really hard to deal with. Just keep pushing, that’s all I can do.’’

Pistons look to deal Hamilton The Pistons have made it clear they want to move one-time franchise cornerstone Richard Hamilton (above) and the two years remaining on his contract. They have dangled him to New Jersey, hoping Nets general manager Billy King wants to add a fading star to help make his club legitimate.

Hamilton did not play in Wednesday’s loss to the Grizzlies, the first time this season he missed a game when healthy.

The Nets and Nuggets have discussed a mega-deal for Carmelo Anthony but may need a third team to get involved, and it could be Detroit. The Pistons would certainly take Troy Murphy and perhaps Johan Petro from New Jersey in return.

Hamilton has basically been phased out of the offense by the versatility of Tracy McGrady and the scoring of Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon. He wants to win another title and realizes it won’t happen in Detroit, so he’s ready to be dealt, and it has shown in his actions. He already has three ejections, tying his career high.

The Pistons already will be under the cap when Tayshaun Prince and Chris Wilcox come off the books, and they could be up to $20 million under with Murphy’s expiring deal. Team president Joe Dumars made questionable signings in Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, so he wants to make sure he can be active in the market after a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.

Trading Hamilton for an expiring contract makes it certain that they can retool sooner.

Haiti situation irks Dalembert Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic Haiti earthquake, and Sacramento center Samuel Dalembert — the NBA’s face of the recovery effort — is hardly satisfied with the progress.

“It’s frustrating, as you can imagine,’’ he said. “It’s a little difficult to keep moving forward because there’s always work to jump over. You’ve got to get an understanding what you’re dealing with. It’s not like an everyday, normal country.’’

Dalembert’s foundation has raised thousands for the relief effort, but he has yet to see tangible results.

“I wouldn’t say progress,’’ he said. “I’d say relief, in terms of the [presidential] election. Things are still not moving forward in terms of what the city [Port-au-Prince] is going to do.

“[The money] is somewhere. Somebody is doing [something], but I think right now, because of the past, all the help is kind of waiting to see who’s going to be in charge and what they are going to do to move forward. At the same time, that hurts the people.’’

With his father still in Haiti, Dalembert said it’s difficult to concentrate on basketball when the country is so slow to recover.

“It’s not too much you can do,’’ he said. “It’s like, a project costs $1 over here, over there it costs $2. You have to find the right way to do the right thing and move forward. You just have to be patient.’’

Layups The arthroscopic surgery on Brandon Roy’s knees is exploratory, and only when doctors determine the extent of the damage will we know whether the Blazers guard is done for the season or his career. Roy is unsure what is giving his knees so much trouble, though he found out a few months ago that the cartilage in both of them has worn away. The Blazers at least have to prepare for Roy accepting a lesser role . . . Scouts said Antoine Walker did nothing to help his efforts to return to the NBA during the recent D-League Showcase in Texas. He went 4 for 26 in two games with 12 turnovers. Walker looked about 25 pounds overweight last month when his Idaho team visited Portland, Maine, and that hasn’t changed. He is shooting 38 percent in his last eight games, and though NBA teams can now sign players to 10-day contracts, Walker is still waiting for a call. Several of his D-League cohorts have already gotten theirs . . . One player Celtics president Danny Ainge would love to get his hands on in the 2011 draft is BYU standout guard Jimmer Fredette, who nearly declared for the draft last season and may have fallen to the Celtics then. With the Celtics needing to get young and find heirs to Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Fredette may fit in perfectly. He dropped 47 points on Utah last week . . . While LeBron James denied tweeting that the Cavaliers’ horrific loss to the Lakers was “karma,’’ he has to be smirking at their collapse. Since entering their Nov. 30 game with the Celtics at a respectable 7-9, the Cavaliers have dropped 22 of 23 games, the win an overtime decision against the Knicks. What’s more, the Cavaliers played Friday’s game against the Jazz with six players out with injury (that would make even Doc Rivers shake his head) after forward Anthony Parker was sent back to Cleveland to have his ailing back examined.

Gary Washburn can be reached at Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

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