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Celtics notebook

Reserves didn’t hold the lead

Starters’ respite resulted in deficit

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / January 30, 2010

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ATLANTA - In 15 minutes of work, Tony Allen’s line in the final box score is immaculate. Eight points on 3-of-3 shooting, perfect from the line, a pair of rebounds, and an assist and a turnover that cancel each other out.

He knows it’s more flattering than he deserves.

The Celtics’ bench was a nonfactor in last night’s 100-91 loss to the Hawks. Collectively, the Celtics’ five reserves were outscored by Atlanta’s Jamal Crawford, 28-18. When the Celtics built a 9-point first-quarter lead, the bench squandered it. When the Celtics came back and made it a 1-point game at the end of the third, the bench gave it back in the fourth.

“We brought the bench in, which you had to do because of playing [Thursday night], and they go up by 11,’’ said coach Doc Rivers. “Starters come back in the third quarter and get it back to 1, you put the bench in, and bam. So it’s tough.’’

After scoring 17 points in Orlando, Rasheed Wallace went 2 for 8 from the floor, missing 4 of 5 threes, in a 6-point night. And Allen was minus-22 in his 15 minutes.

“The bench has to be more focused,’’ said Allen. “We gave up two leads. To have leads like that, you have to sustain that lead or build off it. I would have to say we need to be better. That’s all. We need to be better.’’

Battle of titans
When it comes to individual matchups, Celtics center Kendrick Perkins is running through a big man’s version of Murderers’ Row.

It started Thursday with a crash-and-bang battle with Orlando’s Dwight Howard, who got loose for 19 points and 10 rebounds in the Magic’s 96-94 win. Last night, Perkins had to chase newly minted All-Star Al Horford, who plays like a guard in a center’s body. Tomorrow, Perkins will face the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum.

“I think it’s some great matchups throughout, great tests,’’ Perkins said. “I’m always willing to go against the better guys. I just think it’s a great challenge for me and I’m just looking forward to it.

“You’ve got kind of the same thing with each one of them. As far as Dwight, he’s kind of like a superstar center in the league. Horford is now an All-Star. Bynum is one of the best centers in the league, even though he hasn’t made the All-Star Game yet. You take those matchups personally each night.’’

Perkins struggled against Howard, scoring 4 points and pulling down three rebounds. Last night, he had 8 points and 12 boards.

The hit man
Picked up by the Hawks in the offseason from the Warriors, guard Crawford has become a Celtics killer.

Crawford, who had 28 points last night, went for 18, 18, and 17 points in the first three meetings, particularly torching the Celtics in the fourth quarter. Last night he scored 5 in the fourth.

Getting involved
Paul Pierce and Eddie House have made their pitches for the Three-Point Shootout, and Rajon Rondo said he wouldn’t mind participating in the Skills Challenge.

“If they want me to do it, I’ll do it,’’ Rondo said.

Rondo got a taste of the All-Star experience in 2008, scoring 6 points and adding six assists as a sophomore in the rookie-sophomore game.

“I’m sure it’s different being an All-Star than being in the sophomore game,’’ Rondo said. “There was a lot going on down there in New Orleans and I wasn’t even an All-Star, so I can only imagine being an All-Star what it’s like. I know it’s going to be more hectic.’’

The skills contest combines dribbling, passing, and a 20-foot jumper.

Double-checking, Rondo asked, “You’ve got to shoot a jump shot?’’

Arthroscopy for J.R.
When J.R. Giddens went down in the first quarter of the Red Claws’ 106-104 win over Bakersfield last Sunday, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge called it a “little sprain’’ of his left knee.

But Giddens had his knee examined yesterday and will have an arthroscopic procedure next week. The Celtics recalled the second-year swingman yesterday.

“He’s recalled because when that happens that’s what you have to do,’’ Rivers said. “It’s his meniscus. It’s nothing big, but we have to take care of it and do a scope when he comes back. I think he’ll be back in two or three weeks.’’

Raising eyebrows
It was hard not to do a double-take at the patches of skin where Atlanta coach Mike Woodson’s eyebrows used to be. The story going around is that he lost a bet to his team in the NFL playoffs. The entire coaching staff was supposed to be in on the wager. “I’m mad because my staff didn’t follow my lead,’’ Woodson said. “We’re in this thing together. They left me out here on a limb. It’s not right.’’ Since Woodson is bald, the only facial hair he has is his mustache . . . Faces in the crowd: Former Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

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

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