Commentary

Allen runs down Bulls

Hot second quarter helps spur rout

Updated: October 31, 2009, 8:51 AM ET
By Brian MacPherson | Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Ray Allen apparently isn't too worried about saving his legs for the stretch run. As the 34-year-old shooting guard watched the Chicago Bulls fend off the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, he passed the time with a run on his treadmill.

"I didn't want them to have an advantage on me," Allen said. "If they're going to run, I'm going to run, too, while they're playing."

Allen
Allen
As it turned out, Allen ran about as much Thursday night as he did Friday. After playing 42 and 38 minutes in the Celtics' first two games of the season, he played just 23 minutes against the Bulls on Friday -- and he still scored a season-best 20 points.

Foul trouble limited Allen to 12 minutes in the first half -- he essentially spent a full quarter on the bench -- but after he came in for Paul Pierce midway through the second quarter, he scored 10 of the Celtics' next 15 points.

"He's a natural scorer," Pierce said. "When you're a natural scorer, it doesn't matter. You could sit for a whole half. You could sit for a quarter. He's always mentally into the game, so when he gets in there, he's always ready."

Allen played all but 23 seconds of Wednesday's first half against Charlotte, a game Boston led by double digits at intermission. Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn't intend to give his shooting guard the type of time off he's going to give Kevin Garnett ("Ray you don't worry about as much," Rivers said), but a pair of quick fouls gave him no choice.

He wasn't the only one, either. Garnett and Kendrick Perkins also picked up quick fouls Friday, sending them to the bench for long stretches. Reserve Marquis Daniels played more minutes in the first half (15) than three of the team's five starters.

"Early foul trouble has hurt us, actually," Rivers said, "but we have enough players now where we can play through it."

When Allen came back into the game, though, he went off:

• He hit a running jumper in the lane and drew a foul.

• He cut to the basket, drawing two defenders, and kicked a pass out to Eddie House for a 3-pointer.

• He hit a free throw after officials slapped Joakim Noah with a technical foul.

• He banked a 17-foot jumper off the glass coming off a screen.

• He drew a foul on the floor and hit both free throws.

• He hit a 12-foot jumper in the paint.

(Note: Not one of those points of his came from behind the 3-point arc. Allen didn't hit his first 3 until the third quarter -- at which point he drained two of them in a span of 45 seconds, pushing the Celtics' lead to 22. The first of his 3s lifted him past John Stockton for 33rd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.)

Funny thing: Allen said part of the reason he played so well in that stretch was because he wasn't trying as hard as he might have in the past.

"It's important not to press," he said. "When I was young, I used to get so frustrated with early foul trouble. Coach told me, 'When you get in early foul trouble, your minutes are going to be the same. If you look at the stat sheet after the game, you're still going to play the same amount of minutes."

On Friday, Allen didn't play the same amount of minutes. He finished with a smidge over 23 minutes, a lower total than in all but four of his 152 career games with the Celtics.

That's a big win for Allen and for the Celtics -- even at this early stage of the season.

"We can talk about playing a lot of minutes and scoring a lot of points," he said, "but as a team, that shortens our life span. To be able to play less minutes, shoot the ball less, spread that out through the whole team -- our longevity is even greater because we're able to play well together."

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