Ray Allen made sure that Boston’s first losing streak of the season wasn’t a long one.
Now, Allen and the Celtics will be trying to build on their first win in three games as they host the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.
Boston (31-6) beat Portland 100-90 on Wednesday, rebounding from its first back-to-back losses of the season—both against Washington. Allen scored 26 of his season-high 35 points in the second half of the win.
“It was great to watch. When you’ve got a hot player like that who’s done it so many times throughout his NBA career, you just try to ride the hot hand,” said Paul Pierce, who added 12 points and eight rebounds. “We just tried to get him the ball as much as we could. He made plays off the ball, on the ball and finished it with the pass or the shot.”
The Celtics acquired Allen in a draft day trade with Seattle in the hopes that he, Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Minnesota, would be able to revive a team that finished last season with the second-worst record in the NBA. So far, Boston’s new “Big 3” has come through, as the Celtics own the best record in the league.
However, Allen, who ranks third on the team with 18.1 points per game, admitted that adjusting to his new team hasn’t been easy.
“I think it’s been the biggest adjustment I’ve had so far in the NBA, just understanding what (coach) Doc (Rivers) wants,” he said.
“I’ve never played with a dominant big man like Kevin—and even having (Kendrick) Perkins down there, you throw the ball down, and he can score. I’m just getting used to how he likes the ball, where he likes the ball, looking to him first. … Just being aggressive for me is what I’ve got to continue to do.”
Garnett chipped in 26 points for the Celtics, who had dropped three of four, including two at home. Boston owns the best home record in the Eastern Conference at 17-3.
“We’re gonna take some bumps, and it’s about how we respond throughout the year,” Pierce said.
Point guard Rajon Rondo sat out for the second time in three games with a bruised back and strained right hamstring, but said he hoped to return against the 76ers (15-24).
The Celtics beat Philadelphia 113-103 on the road on Dec. 5, ending a three-game losing streak in the series. Garnett had 22 points, Pierce scored 19 and Allen had 12.
The Sixers ended a season-long seven-game losing streak on Tuesday, winning 111-107 in Houston. Andre Miller had 26 points for Philadelphia, which bounced back from a 16-point second-half deficit to win for the first time in six road games.
“The main thing is to focus on the season and never try to have a really down point,” said Andre Iguodala, who had 17 points. “But we had it, and it’s good for us to bounce back and get a win like we had tonight.”
Philadelphia, which won both visits to Boston last season, topped 100 points for only the third time in 18 games.