Celtics 96, Trail Blazers 76

If this is the way Ray Allen is going to start shooting, then

Doc Rivers wants a lot of speculation swirling around his

sharpshooter.

Even if that means the Boston coach needs to make up rumors.

“Ray is going to get traded tomorrow,” Rivers cracked. “We’re

going to keep saying it so he can keep playing well.”

Allen scored 21 points, including eight straight early in the

fourth quarter to stymie a run by Portland, and the Celtics

completed a difficult West Coast two-step beating the Trail Blazers

96-76 on Friday night.

Kevin Garnett scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half,

helping the Celtics on the second night of a difficult

back-to-back. After holding off the Lakers 87-86 Thursday night in

Los Angeles, the Celtics easily dispatched a rested Portland team

and handed the Blazers their worst loss of the season.

So much for the Celtics looking old – at least for a few

days.

“People can call us old, call us whatever,” Rivers said.

“We’re just going to keep trying to get better.”

Garnett and his frontcourt mates dominated the interior in the

first half, as Boston built an 18-point halftime lead. When

Portland made its charge in the fourth quarter, Allen knocked down

a pair of key 3s to keep the lead in double figures.

It was the fourth time in his last seven games that Allen has

topped 20 points after reaching that mark just four time in all of

January.

“He’s just playing well. He’s relaxed … he was making shots

and it was good for us,” Rivers said.

Andre Miller led the Blazers with 16 points, but the debut of

Marcus Camby in Portland was a dud. Camby made his first shot, then

missed his next four. He finished with two points and seven

rebounds in 29 minutes.

All-Star Brandon Roy played 34 minutes in just his second game

since Jan. 20. Roy made three of eight shots and finished with nine

points, but struggled to get open looks and appeared distracted by

his gimpy leg.

How frustrating was it for Roy? In one of his swiftest moves of

the night, Roy sprinted baseline to gather a rebound and dunk, only

to be called for having his heel on the baseline. Roy said the lack

of game action in the last month has him struggling to find a

rhythm again.

“I’m still trying got find my way with this team and get back

to where I was,” Roy said.

The entire night was a measure in offensive futility for the

Blazers. The 76 points were a season-low and Portland’s seven

assists matched a franchise low. It was the worst home loss for

Portland since April 2007.

“Tonight was like having two new guys in the lineup with Marcus

and bringing Brandon back,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “We

need to work on trying to get a rhythm and rotation to fit this

team.”

For how flat the Blazers were for three quarters they pulled

within nine on Rudy Fernandez’s three-point play to open the

fourth. But Fernandez was called for charging on consecutive

possessions – both drawn by Glen Davis and both negating made

baskets – and two Allen 3-pointers quickly pushed the lead back to

15.

The short-handed Celtics thought they might have even fewer

bodies before the game when a sprained right thumb started acting

up on Paul Pierce. He played and added nine points, and the Celtics

got 33 points from their bench while still waiting for the arrival

of Nate Robinson.

Acquired in a trade with the Knicks, Robinson will remain on the

East Coast while recovering from the flu before joining his new

team.

“Those guys really controlled the game and pretty much pushed

the lead,” Pierce said of the bench. “They closed the game and

allowed us to rest and that’s big especially on a long road

trip.”

With Camby’s long arms now roaming the middle, the Blazers were

expected to get a defensive boost out of the trade that should help

solidify a middle decimated by injuries this season. But Boston

scored 32 points in the paint in the first half, shot 73 percent in

the first quarter and faced little resistance getting shots near

the rim.

While Portland’s defense was porous, the Celtics’ defense was

suffocating, especially in the second quarter. Portland managed

just three made baskets in the quarter. All three came from

LaMarcus Aldridge, but the first wasn’t until there was 5:15 left

in the half, an emphatic dunk over Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.

Portland’s 13 points in the second quarter matched a season

low.

NOTES: Rivers is expecting Robinson to make his debut Tuesday

night when the Celtics return home to face the Knicks. … One fan

in Seattle SuperSonics gear sat at midcourt behind the Blazers

bench and flashed a Sonics flag for television cameras on nearly

every possession. … Rondo was called for a technical foul in the

third quarter after getting flattened by an Aldridge screen in the

backcourt and threw his mouthpiece at the Celtics’ bench near an

official.