NEW YORK - While there are 10 new players on the Celtics' roster and it's only the exhibition season, it's safe to say they've already got each other's back.
After Celtics newcomer Ray Allen fell hard after being fouled by the Knicks' Jamal Crawford, teammates on the floor immediately ran to Allen's defense in Boston's intense 94-87 exhibition loss at Madison Square Garden last night.
"It was like a regular-season game," Allen said. "I don't know the history of these two teams. I've seen it a little bit through the course of the years. But we got each other's back.
"There's nothing more that you can say than when you get hit to the floor somebody's coming to get your back. In my career the last couple of years that's been lacking. We come to each other's aid at any point. When you're up or your down, we got each other's back."
As several Celtics had words for Crawford, Boston's Paul Pierce grabbed Crawford's chin. Crawford said afterward he didn't recall Pierce touching him.
Said Pierce, "It looked like he was trying to stand over him and I wanted to protect my guy."
Celtics guard Tony Allen also seemed to shove Knicks guard Nate Robinson after they got tangled up with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter. While the Celtics showed toughness and camaraderie, Celtics coach Doc Rivers had his concerns.
"It's nice, but it wasn't that hard [of a foul on Allen]," Rivers said. "Listen, Ray Allen has a name and Paul Pierce has a name and Kevin, people want to come after us. That's the way it's going to be. I like the fact that we came to his rescue. But at the end of the day, it wasn't that hard. Ray did go down hard.
"But we got to make sure we keep our composure because the last thing we need is one of your guys to go in and try to grab another guy, a punch is thrown and now he's suspended for five games. The best way to retaliate is on the scoreboard."
The Knicks seemed to play with extra motivation after being hammered by the Celtics, 101-61, last week. Ray Allen (12 points), Pierce (game-high 29) and Kevin Garnett (17 points, 10 rebounds) played together in the fourth quarter for the first time in the exhibition season, but they combined to go scoreless in the fourth on 0-of-6 shooting.
"I told one of the coaches I wanted to see that game [on tape]," Garnett said. "Both teams played hard."
Perkins sits againWith no healthy backup center available, Celtics center Kendrick Perkins sat out for the second straight game.
"It's kind of limited at the [center] spot right now," Perkins said. "It's just preseason."
Perkins is averaging 7.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 22.7 minutes in three preseason games. The 6-foot-10-inch, 280-pounder said he feels healthy. But his backup, newcomer Scot Pollard, has yet to practice since training camp started because of a left ankle sprain.
The 6-11, 287-pound Pollard is receiving treatment and has been doing some light running on a treadmill lately at the Celtics practice facility in Waltham. But it's doubtful he will play in the preseason. Director of operations Danny Ainge, however, said Pollard could practice as early as Thursday and is "hopeful" he will be available for the season-opener Nov. 2 against Washington.
"We need [Pollard] big time," Perkins said. "He's a very important part of our team."
The roster shuffleRivers said there is a "50-50" chance they will keep a maximum 15 players from their current 16-man roster. Rookie guard Jackie Manuel seems to be the odd man out while guard Dahntay Jones and rookie Brandon Wallace could either both make it or be fighting for one spot . . . When asked if the Knicks were ever in the Garnett sweepstakes, Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said: "The hottest it ever got was with Boston. I think it was a deal that they had together [with Minnesota], then it was in the media and then it cooled down and then they were able to put it back together again. But I don't think [the Wolves] were ever serious with anyone else in terms of moving him."
Marc J. Spears can be reached at email@example.com