By A.Sherrod Blakely
NEW YORK When you look at Ray Allen, rarely does the word "tough" come to mind.
But when you closely examine his game and see the way he bounces back despite the physical pounding he takes night in and night out, you realize that pound-for-pound, you would be hard-pressed to find a tougher Celtics player.
So to see him hit the Madison Square Garden floor, his hands covered in blood, no one would have been surprised if he didn't return.
But if you thought that, well, you don't know Ray Allen very well.
After a few minutes in the locker room getting patched up, Allen was back on the floor helping the Celtics rally for a 96-86 win over the New York Knicks on Monday night.
Allen suffered a cut near his right eye when he was hit with an inadvertent elbow from Jared Jeffries that required seven stitches to close; stitches Allen did not receive until the game was over.
"That's just Ray Allen," teammate Delonte West told CSNNE.com. "Ray's as tough as they come."
Allen acknowledged after the game that the blow from Jeffries was about as bad a shot as he's taken in the NBA.
"Even when I went down, it was pouring blood out," Allen recalled. "For that 15 minutes, an excruciating headache."
Allen eventually returned to the locker room to assess the damage, in addition to getting "my wits about me."
Even after he was patched up, Allen was still bleeding.
Still, he refused to allow the injury to keep him off the floor or from being a contributor.
"But it was better to be on the floor for me, than sitting back here," Allen said.
He finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, but no basket bigger than his reverse lay-up with about five minutes to play that put the Celtics ahead, 84-82.
For the remainder of the game, the C's led for all but 19 seconds as they came away with a much-needed win.
So even with Kevin Garnett racking up his 25th double-double of the season (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (13 points, 12 assists) looking like his old self, and Paul Pierce delivering late-game dagger shots, it's hard to ignore the one guy who looked and played the role of tough guy -- Ray Allen.