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CELTICS NOTEBOOK

McCarty loves Phoenix

This is a feeling he wouldn't trade

PHOENIX -- When it came to Walter McCarty, broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn was not his usual enthusiastic self last night.

But there was plenty to love as McCarty finished with 11 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes for the Suns in his first game against the Celtics since Boston traded him to Phoenix Feb. 8 for a second-round draft pick. The Celtics, though, loved the result, a 120-113 overtime win.

Since moving to Phoenix, McCarty has found a lot to love with his new team in his new city.

"It's been great, I'm very happy and I'm enjoying myself," said McCarty. "I love my new team. I love my new city. I'm having a ball."

He's not having any regrets about wanting to leave the Celtics.

"Yes, I did [make the right decision]," he said. "I have no doubts, no regrets, none of that. My favorite part of being here is being on the No. 1 team in the league. And the guys have been really gracious, really accepting. These guys love playing the game, love playing together. It's a great group of guys. It's been nothing but a joyride."

In seven games with the Suns, McCarty is averaging 5.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 15.4 minutes. He expects those numbers to increase.

"My role is pretty similar [to what it was with the Celtics], but I think I contribute a lot more and my minutes will get up as soon as I learn the system," said McCarty. "There have been times when I've been in foul trouble, but I'm starting to play and get my minutes up."

Threes a charm?
Phoenix ranked No. 1 in the league in 3-point percentage (39 percent) and points per game (110.6). All of this makes one wonder what will happen to Boston's 3-point shooting with the arrival of Antoine Walker. The Celtics are shooting 34 percent from 3-point range after going 7 for 18 last night.

Walker, who is known for favoring the 3-point line, shot 32 percent from the arc in Atlanta. But he said he would not force the matter in his return to the Celtics (he was 1 for 4 last night).

"I've just got to fit in," said Walker. "In Atlanta, it was different. I had to do a little bit of everything. I think the great thing about me is I can stretch the defense. But also, when I watched Boston, they needed some type of low-post presence. We've got to release that pressure for Paul [Pierce] and Ricky [Davis] always trying to create. We've got to be able to throw it into the post and me or Raef [LaFrentz] has to make a play at the basket.

"All I know how to do is play. I think the good thing about me is if I take good open looks, I think no coach in America, no coach in the world, would be mad at that. I don't have a limit on what I'm trying to do."

Bench shortened
Tony Allen, who missed last night's game with a sprained right ankle, remains day-to-day. Davis took Allen's place in the starting lineup. The injury left coach Doc Rivers with only nine players . . . Phoenix's Steve Nash sat out his third straight game with a strained left hamstring. In the Suns' previous two games (both wins), they averaged 121 points and shot 56.3 percent from the floor. That was a marked improvement from a stretch of three games (all losses) Nash missed in January with a thigh contusion. Without Nash then, Phoenix averaged 87.3 points and shot 37.4 percent . . . McCarty's new locker is next to former Celtic Joe Johnson. "It's kind of like old times," said Johnson. "We've just got to keep this thing rolling."

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