NBA All-Star notebook

Jones drains Celtics’ fun

Allen, Pierce miss on 3-point crown

Gary Hershorn/Reuters Ray Allen rolled in the first round, but fell short in the 3-point finals. Gary Hershorn/Reuters
Ray Allen rolled in the first round, but fell short in the 3-point finals.
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 20, 2011

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LOS ANGELES — They never saw James Jones coming.

Paul Pierce and Ray Allen tried to turn the 3-point contest into a two-man show — a battle for bragging rights as the best shooter of all time — but when the shots went up last night at Staples Center, the Heat forward knocked them down and walked away with the trophy.

After sinking three money balls in the first round and scoring 16 points, Jones drilled four money balls in the final round and finished with a 20, taking the 3-point title back with him to Miami.

“Those guys are great,’’ Jones said. “They’re some of the best players, best shooters this game has ever seen. I think they brought the best out of me tonight and just for one night, I can say I beat the best.’’

Pierce and Allen both reached the finals, though Pierce needed some clutch shots to get there. After Allen put up a 20 in the first round, Pierce squeezed into the finals by scoring a 12, drilling his last three shots, including a money ball, from the right corner. Allen grinned, knowing that it the excitement would have worn off quickly if Pierce hadn’t been in the finals with him.

But once they were there, neither of them could top Jones. Pierce put up an 18 and Allen went for 15, conceding to the field’s darkhorse.

“Sixteen out of the gate, that’s about steady,’’ Allen said. “Then, he got even more comfortable in the second round.’’

“I really didn’t look at anybody like a sleeper out of all the contestants,’’ Pierce said. “You look at it from top to bottom out of all the 3-point shooters, anybody on any given day could have won and today was James Jones’s day.’’

As for how any wagers would be settled, Allen said, “We didn’t even bet on it. Paul was doing all the woofing. So I need him to make shots now, moving forward.’’

Griffin drives to dunk title The Clippers’ Blake Griffin cleared a car while catching a pass from driver Baron Davis for a two-handed dunk — all to the strains of a gospel choir singing, “I Believe I Can Fly’’ — to help win the slam dunk contest.

Griffin, the hometown favorite, topped the Wizards’ Javale McGee — who made the finals by dunking three balls on the same leap.

Earlier, the Warriors’ Stephen Curry beat the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook in the skills challenge.

Backup talk Though the Celtics had no plans to be active in the trade market, the injury to Marquis Daniels has left them with no backup for Pierce at small forward, so they may make a roster move with the trade deadline just four days away.

Though Daniels is fully functional after bruising his spinal cord two weeks ago against Orlando, the Celtics don’t expect him to return in the near future.

ESPN reported that the Celtics have interest in Cleveland forward Anthony Parker, and Yahoo! Sports said they might have interest in Pistons veteran Richard Hamilton.

But team president Danny Ainge said Friday, “Nothing’s happening. Talk is all.’’

Kevin Garnett, for one, expects Ainge to make some kind of move.

“It’s something we’re going to have to deal with until Danny addresses it,’’ said Garnett. “I don’t even know. I’m pretty sure he’s going to address it.’’

Asked if finding a backup was a more pressing concern with the trade deadline approaching, coach Doc Rivers said, “It is, but we’ll just work it out.’’

Pierce has played in all 54 games this season but has dealt with minor foot and hand injuries. He’s averaging 34 minutes for the season, but he’s at 38 a night in February, playing 40-plus minutes four times already this month.

I’m not really sure what Danny’s thinking, what management’s thinking, or what’s going on with the Marquis situation,’’ Pierce said. “Definitely, if Marquis is unable to go for the rest of the season, then definitely we have to think about it.

Guard Delonte West should return after the All-Star break, and that should help, but Pierce said he feels the effects of Daniels’s absence.

“I think it really affects me because Marquis is my primary backup. Most nights I have to guard the premier, elite players, and he’s capable of doing that.

“Delonte, hopefully we can get him back. Von [Wafer], he’s usually a 2 guard. So Marquis is an important piece when you’re trying to go through the East when you’re trying to match up with LeBron [James], Hedo Turkoglu, Luol Deng, and all those guys.’’

Bully for Rose Bulls guard Derrick Rose has been making a case for MVP — his 42-point outburst against the Spurs in Chicago’s last win before the break was the most recent example — but the one person he doesn’t need to persuade is Rivers.

Rose scored 36 points against the Celtics in early January, pushing the Bulls to a 90-79 win at United Center. He’s been the catalyst for a team riddled with injuries and the feature player for new coach Tom Thibodeau, in his first year with Chicago after leaving Boston last summer.

“I’d vote for Derrick for MVP,’’ Rivers said.

“I think he’s single-handedly put the team on his back at times, when you look at the injuries and the comebacks that they’ve had.’’

Is Bosh the fifth? Inevitably, all four of the Celtics All-Stars will be on the floor at once tonight, and Rivers may have given a clue as to who will be the fifth Eastern player out there.

In yesterday morning’s practice, Rivers did a quick run-through with his four players and Miami’s Chris Bosh, who said he didn’t feel uncomfortable being on an island surrounded by Celtics.

“It’s not the first time,’’ Bosh said. “Usually, I’m the only dude from my team anyway. It’s not the first time, it probably won’t be the last.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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