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Celtics notebook

Allen's night is put to bed

Illness forces guard to sit out

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / January 5, 2012
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The Celtics are relying heavily on their depth because they can’t seem to stay healthy for long. On Monday, it was Jermaine O’Neal out with a strained hamstring, and yesterday Ray Allen was sent home from shootaround with flulike symptoms and told not to report to TD Garden for last night’s game against the Nets unless he improved. He didn’t.

Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are the lone starters to play in all seven games. Paul Pierce missed the first three because of a bruised right heel.

Allen acknowledged after his 27-point performance in Monday’s 100-92 win over the Wizards that he was battling an illness.

Last night, coach Doc Rivers opted for veteran Keyon Dooling over Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavlovic as Allen’s replacement in the starting lineup.

“He’s human, he bleeds,’’ Rivers joked. “We told him to just stay away. I guess the flu is going around, from what I hear.’’

Meanwhile, newly acquired Mickael Pietrus is getting closer to full health. He participated in the shootaround and said he is about 10 days from game action. He has been working before games on his surgically repaired right knee with strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo.

Pietrus could practice for the first time today.

“It’s just getting around my teammates and learning from each other,’’ Pietrus said. “Just learn the plays, so when I get healthy, I’ll be ready to play with my teammates and it will be much easier for me.

“The knee is feeling good right how. I am very happy it’s getting stronger.’’

Time well spent

The Celtics have been erratic through seven games, blaming the compressed schedule, an abbreviated training camp, and a lack of practice time.

The next six days could be critical, because they play only once, tomorrow against Indiana. The Celtics will have five opportunities to practice before Wednesday’s game against the defending champion Mavericks.

That practice time could be especially important to Pierce, who missed camp because of a bruised right heel. He scored a team-high 24 points in 29 minutes last night, but acknowledges he’s still not in premium shape.

“This is going to be great for me,’’ he said. “Just to get sharp with some of the things I’m doing.’’

Problems of their own

The Nets also were not at full strength, missing three starters. Center Brook Lopez likely will miss another six weeks because of a broken right foot. He has given the Celtics problems in the past.

Point guard Deron Williams strained his oblique in Monday’s loss to the Pacers and ruled himself out during shootaround yesterday. Forward Kris Humphries missed the game with a sprained left shoulder.

Among those inserted into the starting lineup was rookie guard MarShon Brooks, the former Providence College standout who was drafted by the Celtics, only to be traded to New Jersey for the rights to JaJuan Johnson.

“It was done before, we didn’t really draft him,’’ Rivers said. “I don’t know why they go through that charade. The deal was done before the draft, before the pick.

“The Nets called us and told us to draft him. I don’t know why we ever do that stuff.’’

Brooks, who entered the game second on the Nets in scoring at 13.7 points in a little more than 21 minutes per game, finished with a team-high 17 points.

Adjustment period

Forward Chris Wilcox attempted one shot, just his sixth of the season. Wilcox has shown to be a capable scorer in the past, averaging double figures in three of his nine seasons, but said he will be patient here.

“I think I’m just trying to feel [the system] and see what Doc really wants,’’ said Wilcox. “I’m not as aggressive as I have been with scoring because we’ve got a lot of scorers here.’’

Back to the bench

With O’Neal back in the lineup, Greg Stiemsma, who had 13 points and seven rebounds Monday in his first NBA start, came off the bench and had 1 point, 5 rebounds, and 1 block in 12 minutes . . . Pavlovic saw his first action since Dec. 30, going scoreless in eight minutes. Rivers said he sat Pavlovic in the two-game set with the Wizards because he wanted more athleticism on the court . . . New Jersey’s Damion James left in the second quarter because of a sore right foot . . . After pulling down 18 rebounds in his last two games, Rondo (32 minutes) did not record a rebound for the first time since March 16, 2011, in 30 minutes against Indiana.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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