THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Allen aim: Improve accuracy

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / April 19, 2009
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A white towel was draped around his neck and another was wrapped tightly around his waist when Ray Allen emerged from the showers in the Celtics' locker room. With his shaving kit in hand, Allen shot a glance at the throng of media waiting in front of his locker and quickly ducked into the trainer's room, as is his custom, to get dressed.

When he emerged in a suit and tie, Allen went to his locker to address the media, but it was evident he was not about to throw in the towel after going 1 for 12 from the field and 0 for 6 from the 3-point arc in Boston's 105-103 overtime loss to the Bulls yesterday in the home opener of their best-of-seven playoff series.

Shooters never stop shooting, and neither did Allen. He found himself on the baseline with the ball in his hands and time running out in overtime. So Allen did what comes naturally: He pulled the trigger.

But his game-tying shot did not find its mark.

"It was right on line," Allen said. "I thought it was in, but it was just kind of . . . in and out."

It was an apt description of Allen's afternoon: in and out.

He missed his first three shots, then made his only field goal on a 7-foot jumper that cut Chicago's lead to 46-40. Allen went 1 for 7 in the first half and 0 for 5 the rest of the way en route to 4 points. His final miss was his only attempt in overtime.

"He missed some open shots, and that happens," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He also had to chase Ben Gordon around, and that's not the easiest task as well. So, I thought early on he missed some and he may have pressed a little bit. I don't know, again. But I know guarding Gordon and trying to make shots is not easy, but you can do it."

Asked if he thought Allen was pressing, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo replied, "I don't think Ray ever presses. I didn't even know he was 1 for 12, but even the last shot, it looked good."

While most shooters of Allen's caliber would shrug off such a performance as just a bad day at the office, Allen was not willing to make any excuses.

"I don't accept it," Allen said. "It's part of the game, though. It's part of the game without me accepting it. You miss your first five and then you make your next five, so you try to balance it off."

That was the lesson Allen seemed to learn during last year's championship run. Remember how he struggled in the first two series against Atlanta and Cleveland? No one seemed to worry then, because the Celtics still had Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to pick up the scoring slack.

"I honestly didn't worry about it," Allen said of his shooting struggles last postseason. "The team, they do what they do and I try to add on whatever I can, individually, and it takes care of itself."

Did he feel any more of a burden yesterday with Garnett out of the playoff picture?

"No," Allen said. "I think guys have different responsibilities. It's not one individual who has to do more. We all have an extra burden."

For now, Allen knows he must keep shooting until he starts putting them in the basket.

"I think we've got to do a better job of getting Ray open early on," Rondo said. "He didn't even get a layup at all. Usually as a shooter, I think when you get to the free throw line, you get your confidence going early. I'm sure the shots were tough; there were contested shots, so you've got to give Chicago credit.

"But I think we've got to do a better job - me, on the break - finding Ray early on and getting him easy looks."

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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