He was shooting 2-13 on the night at this point, and missed the only two free throws the Celtics missed on the night, but down two points with under a minute to go in the game, Ray Allen received the ball behind the three-point line. Catch. Shoot. Swish. That's what shooters do, and when it comes to shooters, Ray Allen is one of the best. His three put the Celtics up by one point with :41.3 to play in the game, and his assist to Tony Allen with 12.5 seconds left put the Celtics up by three, giving them the 98-95 win over the Portland Trailblazers in overtime.
"He has too much history of makes to ever doubt what he does," said Coach Doc Rivers of Allen. "Guys, you know, that separates the good from the great. It always does. A good player wouldn't have taken another shot the rest of the game, and the great ones, they truly believe the next one's going in."
The fact that the Celtics kept feeding Ray the ball, even though it was clear it wasn't his best shooting night, proves just how much they trust in him.
"You know, Ray is one of the great shooters of all time, he's right behind me," Paul Pierce joked. "I told him that in the huddle, he had the looks but the one we needed he was able to knock it down and that's how much we believe in Ray."
Despite Ray Allen's shooting woes, Doc ran three plays in a row for him. Rajon Rondo, who scored 19 points and dished out nine assists, told Doc in the huddle that he figured Allen would be open on that third play, and Doc agreed.
Paul was in foul trouble, the way the offense was running we were setting the screens," said Allen. "I had some good looks at it and it was right there for me and I don't think at any point I didn't feel I was rushing it. It was just that comfort zone that I needed to settle into."
Clearly having Kevin Garnett back in the lineup provided a spark that the Celtics desperately needed in order to get over their mini slump as of late.
"Getting Kevin back out there was great, our emotional leader, we kind of fed off that from the start to the finish," said Pierce who had 24 points on the night before fouling out at the end of the fourth quarter. "The way he talks on defense, the way he helps everybody on the court on defense, sets screens. Those things are really overlooked throughout the league and to be a superstar we could give him the ball every play. But he's so selfless, one of the most unselfish to ever play the game.
Garnett was in foul trouble for much of the game, and picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter before he sat for the majority of it. The self proclaimed "1976 Pinto" ended the night with 13 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 30 minutes.
"It felt good man, I thought I had some decent energy," Garnett said. "I was mad that I was in foul trouble, you don't really help your team when you're doing things like that but for the most part man I kept asking Paul, kept asking Ray, kept asking Rondo and the other guards how was my shows and things of that such."
More than anything, Garnett was glad to just be out there again instead of watching from the locker room. It is safe to say that fans feel the same.
"It's very difficult sitting there watching," Garnett admitted. "I don't sit on the bench for a reason and I try not to say anything until after the game. You're almost helpless, that's the word I'm going to use here. Sitting there watching your guys and knowing that you can't be out there. The impact that I think I can give this team is tremendous. I bring a lot of energy when it comes to defense. I look for guys, I get guys open, some of the small things I think we've been lacking the last couple of games."
Another important reason to have Garnett back is simply so the Celtics can bring Rasheed Wallace off the bench. Wallace scored 14 points on the night and grabbed six rebounds. When Kendrick Perkins left the game with foul trouble early on in the first quarter, Wallace stepped in nicely and reminded Celtics fans why he is so valuable to this team's success. He is quick to deflect the credit to his teammates.
"I think [Garnett] gave the team a boost of energy, to know that we were full throttle. Then the only guy we need to get healthy is Marquis then we'll definitely be pedal to the metal."
"Honestly in my opinion I think the star tonight was Tony Allen," continued Wallace. "I think he did good defense on Andre Miller especially for a few possessions in that overtime and going down towards the end of the clock in regulation. Me, personally, I would give the game ball to T.A. because I think it was his defensive presence on Andre to step up which made everybody else step up."
While the big news tonight was Kevin Garnett returning to the team, another Celtics forward sat out. Brian Scalabrine missed the game tonight with a slightly separated right shoulder. The injury will prevent him from playing in Monday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, but he hopes to return after that.
On a less serious note, Scalabrine was involved in a bet with 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich morning show. The bet was that if he got over 250,000 All-Star Game votes, he would get a spray tan. They announced the "bogus" results (according to Scalabrine) over the air and it was determined that he received 250,008 votes. Scalabrine said he would make good on the bet and get the spray tan on February 24th, one day before the Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers on TNT. No word yet on whether or not Scalabrine will actually get any playing time in that game.