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Celtics notebook

Allen eager for a quick return

Email|Print| Text size + By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / January 11, 2008

WALTHAM - Sitting on the bench in a suit, guard Ray Allen felt as hopeless as fans at TD Banknorth Garden during the Celtics' surprising 95-83 loss to the Bobcats Wednesday night.

Allen missed his third game of the season, this time with a pinched nerve in his neck, but he is slated to return tonight at New Jersey.

After practice yesterday, Allen reflected on how tough it was to watch his team lose for just the fourth time in 33 games.

"Any time that the game comes down to that [stretch] situation you get nervous," he said. "It's got to be pretty nerve-racking for fans because you have no control over what's going on out there. And that's how I felt. I didn't have any control. I love being in those situations at the end of the games. You never really feel like you're down. But I couldn't help.

"The only thing I felt I could do was keep everybody's body language and energy level up. I think we took hits last night and it was seen and felt in our body language."

Allen would have guarded Charlotte's Jason Richardson, who scored a game-high 34 points, and felt he could have made a big difference. Allen is averaging 18 points, 3.1 assists, and 4 rebounds and is shooting a team-best 91.9 percent from the free throw line.

"It goes without question that they missed me on the floor," Allen said. "But we have a pretty good thing going here and anybody could go down and you miss their presence. It just so happens that the guy [Richardson] that really torched us would have been my assignment. Defensively, I would have had my hands full.

"But he would have had his hands full at the same time. Good defense and good offense slow an offensive player down."

Allen told coach Doc Rivers he wanted to play against Charlotte, but he was not cleared medically. Allen is hampered by numbness in his fingers, stiffness in his neck and shoulders, and sleep deprivation. But yesterday he felt loose after a good night's sleep.

"I feel significantly better," Allen said. "It's hard to say sometimes not being in a game situation. But at practice I felt pretty good. I expected to feel better. It's a day-to-day thing.

"The numbness, I would say, is about 80 percent gone. I slept better than I had in the last few days. It's something I got to stay on top of."

Rookie Glen Davis will also return to action tonight after missing his first game with right knee soreness. Scot Pollard took practice off to rest a lingering left ankle injury, but is expected to play.

"It's sore," Davis said. "It doesn't feel bad to the point where I have to retire or anything."

Losing cause

Rivers said concerns from Wednesday's loss included players not communicating, not getting back on defense, and playing in spurts defensively. The Celtics have not lost back-to-back games this season. The NBA record for most games without back-to-back losses is 75, by the Celtics during the 1984-85 season.

"Nobody was down and out," Paul Pierce said. "Not at all. They beat us. They came in and did a good job. We move on from it. We learn from it. We work on the things we did wrong."

Said Rivers: "When we win a game, we look at film and see what we don't do and that's what we focus on. So [the loss] is probably a big deal outside of this building. In here, every day is a big deal for us."

Time changes

The NBA announced the Celtics' game at Orlando Jan. 27 will be at 1 p.m. on ABC (Channel 5), their Feb. 10 home game against San Antonio will be at 1 p.m. on ABC, and their Feb. 22 game at Phoenix will be at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN . . . The Celtics announced the release of a postage collection featuring Pierce, Allen, and Kevin Garnett that can be purchased on celtics.com . . . In the fourth and final update before All-Star starters are announced Jan. 24, Garnett leads the NBA with 1,756,251 votes. Allen and Pierce will likely need to be voted in as reserves by the Eastern Conference coaches . . . Garnett received some more support - as the front-runner for MVP and Defensive Player of the Year - from former NBA stars Willis Reed, Bill Walton, and Mark Eaton. The former players were at a press conference yesterday at the NBA Store in New York City with commissioner David Stern as Kia announced it will donate an SUV to the charity of choice for those award winners. "The new Boston Celtics team with Doc Rivers coaching and the three great players up there and my choice would obviously be Garnett - I think he is a great talent," Reed said.

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