By A.Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON The ball may not lie, but numbers sometimes do -- especially when it comes to Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen.
One of the hottest shooters in the NBA this season, Allen was having one of those nights when nothing seemed to be falling for him.
And there were the Celtics, in a tie game with about 24 seconds to play.
Paul Pierce had 22 points at that point.
Shaquille O'Neal had his first double-double.
Kevin Garnett was re-introduced to his 15-20 foot jump-shot.
So who were the C's looking to shoot the game winner?
Ray Allen, of course.
And like he has done so many times, Allen, who was 1-for-7 shooting at the time, was money when it counted.
His 22-foot jumper with 24.5 seconds to play gave the C's an 84-82 lead, and would prove to be the game-winning basket.
"That's just Ray," Pierce said. "You've seen him do it a million times. He's such a great player, such a clutch player, I can't even describe being out there with him, I love playing with him."
Coach Doc Rivers said the play was drawn up for Allen to take the shot. And if he wasn't able to, Pierce was the second option.
"Ray just makes shots, you know?" Rivers said. "He's one of those guys, he can go 0-for-10; you know the one guy that believes he's going to make it is Ray. And the second group is our team. When we drew it up, you could tell, they thought it would work and they went with it. It was great."
While Allen's ability to consistently deliver big shots in pressure moments has been a huge plus for the Celtics, even more impressive is the willingness of his teammates to allow him to take that shot.
Before Allen and Garnett arrived in Boston in 2007, everyone knew who was going to take the final shot for Boston in the closing moments of a tight game. Without fail, it was Pierce.
Garnett was that guy in Minnesota.
"Now you got a situation, you got guys who can come through in the clutch," Pierce said. "It's just such a relief when you got guys who can make baskets for us."
And it doesn't matter how that player is shooting prior to that final shot.
As Rivers drew up the play, he said he had no hesitation calling Allen's number, even if he had misfired on six of his previous seven shots from the field.
"No. No. Ray is a shooter," Rivers said. "Shooters make shots."