|Celtics guard Avery Bradley attempts to steal the ball from the Bulls’ C.J. Watson. (Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)|
Ball movement may get them somewhere
CHICAGO - In Wednesday’s 98-88 loss to the Pistons, Ray Allen did not record his first field goal until there were 5.7 seconds left in the game. It was a meaningless, garbage-time layup, but it allowed him to avert his first game without one since Game 3 of the 2010 NBA Finals.
Paul Pierce converted just three field goals, as he and Allen watched Rajon Rondo dominate the ball, taking a career-high 27 shots and scoring a career-best 35 points.
While Rondo has been aggressive since Sunday’s win over the Bulls in Boston, there have been questions about whether he should distribute the ball early in games to get his teammates going.
Allen said it is a team issue.
“It gets frustrating,’’ Allen said. “I’ve been a scorer my whole career, and scoring in many different ways, so I try not to lock into one way or the other how I am going to put the ball in the hole.
“But being able to create as well, creating opportunities for the other guys, I think this year more than any year I’ve noticed teams focusing heavier on me.’’
Allen was the Celtics’ leading scorer early in the season, but opponents clearly have been attempting to take him out of games.
He averaged 20 points in four December games, then 13.5 in January, and he dipped to 13.0 this month. He entered last night’s game shooting 42.7 percent in February, and went 4 for 13 for 12 points.
“I’ve seen teams, it’s almost like a box-and-one, where the guy is not bumping anything, he’s committing himself to me and he’s not help defense at all,’’ Allen said. “And a lot of teams are saying, ‘We gotta take Ray out, keep him out of the game, and we stand a greater chance of keeping the offense in standstill situations.’
“So I do whatever I can to move the ball around and get to positions where I can create stuff for other people, but when we get in trouble, we don’t move the ball around. If I’m scoring, the ball is moving around quite a bit.’’
The Celtics began last night’s game with more ball movement, as Pierce attempted six shots in the first eight minutes after taking a total of 11 Wednesday.
“Early in the game, it’s great that I drop the ball off because if we get the bigs on some rolls to the basket where they get dunks, it does bring the energy up,’’ Allen said. “It creates great flow in the offense.
“We all have to do a better job of doing that. We know we can score [individually], but for the overall good of our offense, it doesn’t help us.’’
Doc Rivers said he knew Kevin Garnett was ready to play when he was waiting for the rest of the team at the airport for the flight to Chicago Wednesday night. Garnett missed the loss to the Pistons with a sore left hip, but delivered with his eighth double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) of the season last night.
“I’m toughing through it, just out there trying to play hard, trying to give my team something,’’ said Garnett.
“Kevin, when he wants to play, he lets you know he wants to play,’’ Rivers said. “When we got on the plane last night, and I had literally left it up to him to be on or not for his body’s sake, he was waiting for all of us, so that’s good.’’
The Celtics missed reigning MVP Derrick Rose (sore back) for the second time in five games. Rose has missed the past four games but coach Tom Thibodeau said he is improving. There is no word whether the injury would take Rose, an All-Star starter, out of the Feb. 26 game.
The All-Star Game in Orlando, Fla., will be Thibodeau’s first as a head coach after the Bulls gained the best record in the Eastern Conference. Thibodeau has been in All-Star Games before as Rivers’s assistant and Rivers is convinced the low-key, workmanlike Thibodeau can handle a team of stars. “A lot of people keep thinking things about Thibs and he keeps doing the right things, he’s a terrific coach,’’ Rivers said. “He’ll have fun. I told him I’ll be in town and don’t call me. Thibs has been through this. I will tell you this, in the New Orleans game , Thibs, Kevin Eastman and Armond Hill were killing me over winning because it’s double for the winning coaching staff what [money] you get. Thibs in the fourth quarter kept saying, ‘Hey, we want to win this game, don’t you forget it.’ ’’ . . . Mike James, on a 10-day contract with the Bulls, was pivotal, scoring 8 points with four assists in 17 minutes . . . . . . Mickael Pietrus has missed his last seven 3-point shots, including four last night.