Boston Celtics' Ray Allen's big night could be sign of a second-half surge
Posted by Adam Madison, Special to ESPN.com
The Celtics hung on to Ray Allen through the trade deadline, and hopefully you did too. Allen is shooting a career-low 33.3 percent from beyond the arc this season but hit 4-of-6 from long distance Thursday en route to a team-leading 24 points against the Lakers. He missed his only foul shot, but otherwise made 10-of-15 shots in a throwback performance.
There’s no guarantee it wasn’t just a hot night for the jump-shooter — Allen came into the game 2-for-11 from long range his past two games — but shooting is one NBA skill that is often ageless, so one has to expect his 3-point percentage to creep up in the final third of the season. If it does, watch out. believe it or not Allen was a top-15 player according to our player rater last season, and despite his poor year shooting the ball he’s still on the cusp of top-50 this season. with a reversal of fortune, the guard could carry you in the playoffs. Sure, the Lakers were without Kobe Bryant, but they’re still first in opponent 3-point field goal percentage by a significant margin, so Allen’s performance was impressive. Don’t be surprised if tonight was just the beginning of a post All-Star break spree.
Paul Pierce scored just 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 1-of-4 from beyond the arc, and it will be interesting to see if Pierce can continue to shoot nearly 45 percent from long range this season. If he can’t, it’s worth wondering whether he’ll be able to compensate, as his 3-pointers have propped up his value and have hid the fact he’s attempting 2.3 fewer shots per game than last season. Kobe missed his fifth straight game Thursday, and as usual in his absence, the Lakers pounded the ball down low, with Pau Gasol (22 points, seven rebounds and three blocks), Lamar Odom (13 points, 14 rebounds) and even Ron Artest (15 points and eight rebounds) benefiting. Odom was once again a difference-maker, with a plus-14 compared to Andrew Bynum’s minus-14; it will be interesting if Odom earns a starting position once Bryant return. Mo Williams (shoulder) returned ahead of schedule versus the Nuggets, but he didn’t have a huge impact, with eight points, three assists and two 3-pointers in 18 minutes off the bench. the Cavs play Friday and then again Sunday, so we’ll know soon enough if Williams will be reinserted back in the starting lineup.
Taj Gibson has grabbed 26 boards and swatted six shots in his past two games, totaling 59 minutes, and with Joakim Noah still out indefinitely with plantar fasciitis, Gibson holds some serious short-term value against the Timberwolves Friday. Roy Hibbert matched up well against Emeka Okafor the last time the two met, with Hibbert going off for 27 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks versus the Hornets back in January. the Hornets play a big front line, so Hibbert should have an opportunity at 30-plus minutes. Speaking of the Hornets, Darren Collison has gotten all the hype, but it is Peja Stojakovic who has seen the biggest increase in production since Chris Paul’s absence, averaging 22.8 points and 4.0 3-pointers his past five games. how he’s owned in just 38.9 percent of ESPN leagues is beyond me. an MRI is scheduled for Corey Maggette, and in the meantime Anthony Morrow should be the huge beneficiary versus the Jazz.
Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
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