Tony Allen makes up for Ray Allen's absence

Mike Fine

Doc Rivers gave the scorekeeper a break Friday night.

When guard Ray Allen was unable to dress because of a nagging ankle injury, the Celtics coach replaced him with Tony Allen -- no name change necessary in the box score. But the replacement player didn't give the Milwaukee Bucks a break.

Returning to the form that made him a force before blowing out his ACL last year, Allen was all over the place, but he did one thing that Ray Allen might not have: He smothered the Bucks' Michael Redd like snow on your driveway. And when he wasn't doing that, he was also an offensive catalyst.

Allen kicked off the 9-0 second-quarter led that gave the Celtics some breathing room with a 3-pointer, and along the way scored 11 points with four steals.

His real value, though, was holding the NBA's ninth-leading scorer (24.1 ppg) to only seven points, his first single-figure game of the season, while Paul Pierce was hitting four third-quarter 3-pointers to begin the second-half obliteration that led to a 104-82 win.

The Celtics now own a 12-0 home record to match the team's best ever start in 1984-85. They're 19-2 overall and headed to Toronto for a Sunday game.

Against the team that allowed the Celts to snap their 18 game losing streak last Feb. 14, Pierce finished with 32 points, Kevin Garnett adding 15 and Rajon Rondo 17 points and eight assists. Kendrick Perkins returned to the starting lineup to grab five rebounds.

For the second straight game, the Celtics held a wide edge in free throws, hitting 26 of 30. The Bucks, who got a team-high 14 points from Mo Williams, were 10-for-13 from the line.

All this happened without Ray Allen and his 19.2 points per game.

"It's just his (right) ankle," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I don't want to take a chance. We've got a lot of games left, so my recommendation is to sit him today, maybe even Sunday (in Toronto).”

Allen sprained the right ankle Nov. 24 in Charlotte, the same night he hit a game-winning field goal off an Eddie House steal of an inbounds pass, off a feed from Paul Pierce. He'd been dealing with the effects of the sprain ever since, and had sat out several practices, including Thursday's, although he gave no indication that he wouldn't be playing.

Rivers said Allen never would say anything, anyway.

"He keeps doing his routine. I don't think it helped him. Eddie's (trainer Lacerte) the one who alerted me about a week-and-a-half ago. He said 'Ray won't tell you. You need to get involved.'"

Tony Allen had impressed Rivers with recent performances after taking some criticism following the Dec. 2 loss to Cleveland.

Allen held Redd scoreless until 5:17 remained in the second quarter. Yet, that was also troubling. Without their leading scorer, the Bucks were more than holding their own in the first half, despite falling down by eight early on.

At that point Milwaukee staged a 10-2 run and took its first lead early in the second quarter, once Garnett took a break. Not long after he returned, so, too, did the Celtics. They ran off nine straight points in the final three minutes in impressive fashion, starting with an Allen 3-pointer, continuing with a Garnett fast break dunk off an Allen steal and feed, with a Pierce layup off a Rondo steal and feed, and with two Pierce free throws following an Allen offensive rebound.

The spurts enabled the Celts to take a 46-44 lead into the locker room, Garnett and Pierce accounting for 26 points. When they returned, the Celtics ran roughshod, using three of Pierce's four 3's to stage the 20-4 run that basically sealed the win.

In the end, not only did Redd take an early seat. So, too, did Pierce and Garnett.

Of note

Perkins was back in the lineup, but his bed was still not back together. "It's just low to the ground," he said. "That's pretty crazy, right? I'm gonna get it fixed. Right now I'm just a little scared." … Several members of the Chinese media covered the game to keep an eye on Milwaukee's Yi Jianlian, who scored 10 points. … Scott Pollard's back was feeling better, but not well enough to allow him to play. … Gabe Pruitt has returned from Utah of the NBDL to shore up the lineup. NBA rules stipulate he can only be sent down three times, and he's now been there twice. Pruitt played the final six minutes.

The Patriot Ledger