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Celtics notebook

Hornets said to want Thibodeau

The Magic’s Jameer Nelson ran into a crowd on this drive, getting swallowed up by Kevin Garnett and Tony Allen. The Magic’s Jameer Nelson ran into a crowd on this drive, getting swallowed up by Kevin Garnett and Tony Allen. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 25, 2010

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It appears Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau may have his best shot yet at what’s been an elusive head coaching job.

A person familiar with the process yesterday told the Associated Press that Thibodeau is the leading candidate to fill the Hornets’ coaching vacancy and the team could offer him the job this week.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the offer has not yet been made.

The Hornets also interviewed Portland assistant Monty Williams, former Dallas coach Avery Johnson, Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, former NBA coach Mike Fratello, former New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank, ex-NBA player Mark Jackson, and Utah assistant Tyrone Corbin.

Coach Doc Rivers continually has lauded Thibodeau, who handles the team’s defense, during his past efforts to land a top job.

Caught looking?
The “Beat LA’’ chants started in the fourth quarter of Game 3. From Los Angeles, the “We want Boston’’ chants started after the Lakers blew the Suns out in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

Both teams had their series prolonged after the Lakers’ loss Sunday night and the Celtics’ loss last night. Rivers said it was impossible for his team not to hear the premature chatter and acknowledged it may have had some effect.

“I know they heard it,’’ Rivers said. “They had no choice but to hear it. I don’t know if they believed it or [not]. We didn’t play well, I know that. I hope that wasn’t the reason for it.’’

After running up a 3-0 lead in the first round against the Miami Heat and riding the high of Paul Pierce’s Game 3 buzzer-beater, the Celtics let Dwyane Wade go off for 46 points in a 101-92 Game 4 loss.

“It’s just a lesson in humility,’’ Ray Allen said. “As a team, as individuals, you never get too big for the situation. We’re in a great position. So we have to take care of the small things and they’ll add up to what we ultimately want.’’

Rough night for Rondo
Foul trouble and muscle spasms limited Rajon Rondo to just 15 minutes in the first half last night.

Two first-quarter fouls took him off the floor early.

Jameer Nelson worked a pick and roll that left Rondo guarding Dwight Howard down low. Rondo had no choice but to foul, and after getting whistled with one earlier on Nelson, he sat the final 4:35 of the first quarter and didn’t get back on the floor until 8:59 of the second.

Rivers said he was unaware of the muscle spasms.

“I knew early on he was fatigued,’’ Rivers said. When I came in at halftime he said he was good. I don’t really ask. If a trainer comes to you, then you know it’s something serious. If he doesn’t, you just let it go.’’

Allen dealing with it
His history with ankle troubles so extensive, Tony Allen downplayed the turned ankle he suffered in the first quarter of Game 2 against the Magic.

He came off the bench in the Celtics’ Game 3 win over Orlando Saturday night and played 18 minutes, the most he’s played in the series, coming up with the tip that led to Rondo’s highlight-film dive for the ball/layup in the second quarter.

“It’s just pretty sore,’’ Allen said before last night’s game. “I’m pretty sure it’s a lot of guys who would come out right now and be honest with you and say something’s wrong with them. It’s the playoffs. I don’t think nobody’s 100 percent right now. People had injuries all year. This is one of them. I’m feeling good. I’m all right. It’s not that big of a deal.’’

Rivers said it affected Allen enough that he decided to rest him during off days.

“He didn’t practice that entire time off, but he’s feeling better,’’ Rivers said. “It was a pretty good turn in Game 2. So he’s feeling a lot better.’’

Allen who played only 12 minutes last night, finished with 2 points, 2 assists, and 1 rebound. He also committed four fouls.

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

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