EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 1, 2010

Souring on Sugar Ray

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.

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