for this game

Allen's shooting sparks Celtics past Blazers

Jan 17, 2008 - 4:45 AM By Mike Petraglia PA Sportsticker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) - Ray Allen found his shooting stroke just in time to reverse the recent fortunes of the Boston Celtics.

Allen made 9-of-13 shots in the second half and finished with a season-high 35 points as the Celtics snapped a brief two-game losing streak with a 100-90 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night at TD Banknorth Garden.

Kevin Garnett added 26 and seven rebounds for the Celtics (31-6), who improved to 17-3 at home while beating the Blazers for the fourth straight time in Boston.

Brandon Roy scored 22 to lead Portland (23-15), which fell for the second time in three tries on its season-long seven-game road trip. The Blazers lost for just the third time in their last 21 overall.

Allen, who had not had a 20-point game since December 29, scored 12 points in the final 2:18 to help Boston turn back repeated runs by Portland.

"For myself personally, I still feel like there were some shots out there that seemed like they were going in and out for me, in and out," Allen said. "One thing I can say is that we played great basketball today. Things didn't always go our way, but everybody stuck with it, everybody played hard. We played both ends of the floor, we adjusted to things they were beating us on."

Allen had his best game since suffering a pinched nerve in his neck and helped lead the Celtics back, scoring six points in a 19-6 run in the third quarter that gave Boston the lead for good.

"Tonight was probably the best, physically, that I've felt this season," Allen said.

Allen was also clutch in the closing minutes. With 2:18 remaining in the fourth and the shot clock winding down, Allen grabbed a loose ball and hit a key 3-pointer to put Boston ahead, 89-80.

"Looking at that play in slow motion and the ball rolls right to Ray Allen, out of all people," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "And I've seen that form enough to know he's got a good shot of knocking that down. That was a big shot and a big break for them."

Jarrett Jack brought the Blazers to within four when he connected on a layup and was fouled with 56.9 seconds left. The free throw completed a three-point play and cut Boston's lead to 91-87.

But Allen drilled another 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining to seal the win for Boston, which had lost three of four overall entering the game.

"I tell the guys on the team the more we run, the more I think I score when we play fast-break basketball because I run up and down, space the floor, you get threes, you get drives to the basket, defenses out of place," Allen said.

The Celtics won, despite their captain, Paul Pierce, being held to 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the floor.

"It's great that Ray played the way he did," Pierce said. "He was tremendous, shot the ball well. It was great to watch. When you've got a hot player like that who's done it so many times throughout his NBA career, you just try to ride the hot hand.

"We just tried to get him the ball as much as we could. He made plays off the ball, on the ball and finished it with the shot."

Neither team could find its offensive rhythm in the opening quarter as they battled to a 19-19 deadlock. Each team took 20 shots from the floor, with Portland making eight and Boston hitting on seven.

Boston's long-distance struggles allowed the visitors to gain control of the game as the Celtics made just 3-of-14 shots from beyond the arc.

The Trail Blazers did not have similar difficulties, making 5-of-10 3-point attempts while building a 36-27 lead on Jack's 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining in the second quarter.

The Celtics leaned on Garnett and answered with a 16-4 spurt to go ahead, 43-40, following Garnett's turnaround jumper with 1:28 left before halftime.

Steve Blake hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for his first points of the night, giving Portland a 45-43 halftime lead and momentum heading into the locker room.

The Trail Blazers continued their run to open the third quarter, using a 7-2 spurt to shoot out to a 52-45 lead with 10:12 left in the third.

But Portland committed season-high 21 turnovers, leading to 23 Boston points and helping the Celtics turn the tide.

"That was a good game for us," McMillan said. "What it does is that it shows us that we have work to do. They are the better team and they showed why tonight. Their physical play forced us to hurry and into a lot of situations. Twenty-one turnovers, you can't turn the ball over against a good team like this."

Roy committed four turnovers as Portland dropped its fifth straight game to Boston.

"I think we came in tonight wanting to play well against them," Roy said. "I don't think we believed that we could beat them. We've been playing to win lately, but tonight I think we just came in to give them a good game. The next time we play them we have to believe that we can actually beat them."