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Celtics notebook

Wallace’s presence opens some avenues

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / October 10, 2009

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Rasheed Wallace feasted on the Knicks, scoring 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor and 4 of 4 from the line in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ 96-82 preseason victory last night at TD Garden.

But Celtics coach Doc Rivers felt Wallace was most dangerous when he didn’t have the ball.

“We scored a couple of buckets where he literally had nothing to do with the play except for standing behind the [3-point line] but he took a [center] out there with him,’’ Rivers said. “Our guards are driving down the lane and there’s nobody there. So it’s great what he does for us.’’

Wallace’s 13-point, 12-rebound, 2-assist performance validated the notion that his length, range, low-post ability, and defensive skills add another layer to the Celtics.

“He just brings a dimension that’s hard to explain,’’ said Paul Pierce. “You’ve got a 7-foot guy that can go inside, outside, rebound the ball. Him and Kevin, it’s great to play with one guy like that, now we have two guys like that. It just adds so much versatility.’’

Peace of mind
The national conversation centered on President Barack Obama being honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, and that conversation made its way into the Celtics’ locker room.

The opinions were as mixed as the ones throughout the country, the fundamental argument centering around whether Obama deserves the honor despite having been in office only 12 days before the deadline for nominations.

Ray Allen discussed the announcement with friends, and was in the locker room as it became a talking point for some of his teammates, but in the end, he believed the honor was cause for celebration more than debate.

“Regardless of what he deserves or what he doesn’t deserve, it’s an honor that anybody gets that award. You have to celebrate whatever person gets that award,’’ he said.

Healthy return
Kevin Garnett played 22 minutes last night after playing just 13 in the preseason opener against Houston Wednesday night in Hidalgo, Texas. He scored 10 points and had eight rebounds against the Knicks.

One positive sign came when Garnett got tangled up with New York’s Jared Jeffries and was kicked in the leg.

“Kevin got stuck in a terrible spot and I think that actually really helped Kevin,’’ Rivers said. “You could have strong knees and be in that spot and get injured. All the guy’s weight was on Kevin and Kevin’s in a bad spot and it just felt like all of a sudden Kevin was like, ‘Wow, I’m really healthy.’ ’’

Garnett had said his goal was to play an entire quarter. The most he played last night was eight minutes in the first quarter.

“Whatever Docs sees as minutes for me, I just want to be productive in those minutes,’’ Garnett said. “First quarter I thought I was very active. Just energy-wise I thought I was very energetic. I’m eager. I’m very eager. So at this point my challenge is to be centered, to be under control. Just small things like that. The game is so fast.’’

Allen gives it a go
Rivers was under the impression Tony Allen wouldn’t be available last night. Ten minutes before the tip, Allen changed that.

“We went out, and he said, ‘Hey can I give it a try?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll throw you in early.’ I’m just going by what he feels.’’

Still recovering from offseason surgery on his left thumb, Allen put up two shots in eight minutes after sitting out the preseason opener.

“It was my decision,’’ Allen said. “I feel good. My wind is there. I’ve just got to get my confidence back.’’

Reverse move
Midway through the third quarter with the Celtics pulling away, Pierce was virtually alone on a fast break and decided to break out the reverse dunk, preseason notwithstanding.

“I’m good for one of those like one every 20 games,’’ said Pierce, who scored 9 points in 24 minutes. “So about four times a year.’’

Good impressions
Two players who have impressed Rivers are Michael Sweetney and Marquis Daniels.

Sweetney scored 10 points in eight minutes against the Rockets Wednesday. The concern is keeping the 275-pounder in shape.

“He’s an NBA player,’’ Rivers said. “There’s no doubt about it. He has to get in better shape. But he clearly has NBA skills. I wouldn’t want to guard Sweet in the post.’’

Daniels led the team in assists against the Rockets.

“He makes plays that point guards only make and he does it naturally,’’ Rivers said.

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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