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Celtics notebook

Will Pierce’s long-distance call be answered?

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 2, 2011

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SACRAMENTO — Initially, Paul Pierce’s challenge was for a one-on-one 3-point shootout with Ray Allen at All-Star Weekend this month in Los Angeles.

“He’s the 3-point king,’’ Pierce said, “but I’m the 3-point champ.’’

But playing a promoter’s role at shootaround yesterday morning, Pierce said he wanted to defend his 3-point title against any and all of the league’s top shooters.

“I’m just trying to go against the best,’’ Pierce said. “I’m just trying to figure out who the best shooters are of this era, and I’m just trying to challenge them. Ray’s definitely one of them. Who else? Dirk Nowitzki? Peja Stojakovic? I want them all to come out. This is something you might want to see.’’

Stojakovic is a two-time 3-point champion (2002, 2003). Nowitzki won the crown in 2006. Allen knocked down 10 straight shots when he won the 2001 title.

Although he has seen Pierce and Allen shoot it out in practice, Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn’t ready to make a pick.

“I don’t know,’’ Rivers said. “I’m probably going with Ray in any shooting contest, but they do it a lot, and they pretty much are split when they play. They’re both pretty good shooters, especially when they’re by themselves. Then they’re really good shooters.’’

Allen has a longstanding reputation for being accurate from long distance. With 2,548 career threes, he needs 13 to pass Pacers legend Reggie Miller and become the all-time NBA leader.

But Pierce has argued to anyone who will listen that had he spent his career solely as a 3-point shooter rather than a slasher and scorer, he would have gone down as one of the best in the game. He has made 1,538 3-pointers in his career, and by the end of the season, he should slide by Tim Hardaway, Eddie Jones, and Glen Rice into ninth place.

A 3-point matchup with Allen, he said, would be like a prizefight, which is why he’s asking the league to make it happen in three weeks.

“You get two players of that caliber,’’ Pierce said, “it’s meant for a worldwide stage. You don’t just put Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather in Eagle High School gym to fight.’’

Homeward bound Some 6,000 flights were canceled nationwide and more than half the flights at Logan were called off because of the weather, but the Celtics were considering flying back to Boston last night following their matchup with the Kings that concluded a four-game, weeklong road trip.

Before the game, Rivers said plans are up in the air.

“We will be, too, after the game, going somewhere,’’ he said. “We’ve talked about [contingency plans], but we’ll figure that out later.’’

Reports of the harsh conditions back home had the Celtics concerned.

“We’ve been talking about it,’’ said Pierce. “We just want to be able to make it home if we can. If not, that’s Mother Nature. You’ve just got to figure it out.

“I don’t mind getting stuck in 50-degree weather instead of 18-degree weather.’’

Stars within reach The Celtics went into last night’s game with a 2 1/2-game lead over the Heat, and a win would mean that Rivers would go to Los Angeles as head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars. The coaches with the best records in the conferences two Sundays before the Feb. 19 game get the honors.

Rivers coached the team in 2008 in New Orleans and would have coached again in 2009 had it not been for the “Riley Rule,’’ which prevents coaches from going to consecutive All-Star Games.

“It shows how great and underrated a coach Doc is,’’ Pierce said. “He’s done a fabulous job with the players he’s had throughout his career, whether it’s good or bad. Even when we weren’t winning, he was still a great coach just the way he led the players, and it’s just a testament of the great job he’s done truthfully.’’

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

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