BOSTON — Ray Allen makes $19,766,860 to make that shot.
A wide open 3-footer from the left wing with the game on the line. He's hit enough of them that he's making $19,766,860 and someday his bust will reside in Springfield.
But for Allen and the Celtics, those SportsCenter-leading buzzer-beaters have been hard to come by this year. Yesterday was a microcosm of the 2009-10 season: coulda, woulda, shoulda.
But in the end Allen clanged the shot, the Celtics lost a nationally televised heartbreaker to the hated Los Angeles Lakers, 90-89, and the freefall continues.
Three straight games they had a chance to prove themselves against the elite. Three straight times they lost: 100-91 at Atlanta on Friday when a furious late comeback fell short, 96-94 Thursday at Orlando when they blew a 16-point lead and yesterday when they blew an 11-point lead in the final nine minutes to the defending NBA champs.
"I feel I let the team down," said Allen. "There is always another shot.''
Or is there? Coach Doc Rivers hinted he did give some consideration to giving Tony Allen the fourth-quarter minutes as he played a fine game with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Like Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant also is paid handsomely for his abilities. The best clutch player in the game showed why he's a bargain at $23,034,375 a year, draining a hanging foul-line jumper over Allen for the go-ahead hoop with 7.3 seconds to play.
Painful misses are becoming par for the course for Allen, who was 2 for 10 from the floor and 0 for 6 from 3-point land. He's shooting a career worst .339 from behind the arc.
Allen, 34, is in the final year of his contract and the buzz is he might be available.
When Doc Rivers admits he thought about having Tony Allen in the game late, you know Ray isn't the Ray of old.
Sugar Ray may have had the sweetest jumper in the history of the league. If not, you can count the better shooters on your fingers with several left over (Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Rick Barry, Dirk Nowitzki, Jerry West and perhaps Dale Ellis and Glenn Rice?)
Danny Ainge has some restless nights in front of him as the Feb. 18 trading deadline looms. He has to make a run at the title this year, and who's to say the C's can't turn things around and make a run? But they have to make a move or two.
Allen, who may be the hardest worker on the team, isn't naive. He may not last the season.
Before the game he said, "Nothing surprises me. You see guys come and go that you didn't expect. Milwaukee the guy who wasn't supposed to be traded was the guy who was traded (me). I've seen stranger things happen."
Next year's title hopes seem like a pipe dream. By the end of the 2010-11 season Allen would be a couple months shy of 36, ancient for a shooting guard, creaky Kevin Garnett would be 35 with 16 looong years of NBA wear and tear on the odometer and Paul Pierce would be a couple months shy of 34.
It's this year or bust.
His teammates say they haven't lost confidence in Allen, who has been eclipsed by first-time All-Star Rajon Rondo as part of the team's Big 3.
"Ten times out of 10 times I'll give it to him for the game,'' said Paul Pierce, who made the final pass to Allen.
It's midseason, and the Celtics may be just in a slump (they've lost 8 of their last 12). Or maybe, like the Patriots and the Red Sox, that mid-year bad feeling in our gut is going to play out in a frustrating next three months.
This was the roundball version of Patriots-Colts on Nov. 16. Like with the Pats' collapse in the 35-34 loss, this one won't soon be forgotten.
Ray Allen could have and should have changed all that.
E-mail Michael Muldoon at email@example.com.
Ray Allen's slump