Allen still Boston's go-to shooter in the clutch

191544.jpg

Allen still Boston's go-to shooter in the clutch

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

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."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.