Patriots

Allen 'rusty' in return

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Allen 'rusty' in return

BOSTON Ray Allen didn't have the kind of triumphant return to the court that he and the Boston Celtics would have liked.

But in the C's 87-86 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, Allen once again showcased his value to the team despite having just five points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field.

In typical Ray Allen fashion, he nailed one of the biggest shots of the night, a 3-pointer with 39.8 seconds to play, that brought the C's within a point of tying the game up.

But there would be no sequel to his big shot, as the final shot of the game by the C's was taken by Paul Pierce whose jumper hit the back of the rim before rolling out as time expired.

Despite having not played in six games, Allen saw about 35 minutes of court time, which is about a minute more than his season average for minutes played (34.2) per game.

C's coach Doc Rivers didn't think Allen played bad, but did say he thought he was "rusty."

"He didn't get a lot of shots, which is fine by me," Rivers said. "Especially at the beginning of the game he didn't get any shots and our offense was rolling. So you don't worry about that. But overall pretty well."

"He's been out a while," said Rajon Rondo. "He's a veteran. He's come back before."

Still, his play won't be good enough to end the debate between whether he should remain with the starting unit, or whether his replacement while injured -- Avery Bradley -- should hold down the starting job full-time.

Bradley came off the bench and led the C's in scoring with 19 points.

"He's a pain in the ass," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, referring to Bradley. "The game starts and you know what he's going to do. He's going to cut from the corner to the bucket and lay it in. He's going to cut diagonally from the top. You've got to give him credit. He knows his role and he does it very, very well. He killed us all night long."

While Bradley had the better night statistically, it wasn't as if the C's were horrible with Allen in the game. In fact, he had a plusminus of plus-3 for the game. The only Celtics player with a higher plusminus ratio was Paul Pierce who was plus-4.

Although it wasn't one of Allen's better games, his teammates understand that it may take a little while for him to regain his top-shelf form after missing the last six games with a right ankle injury.

"It's tough when you take five, six games off," Pierce said. "You know sometimes the timing's off, sometimes a little bit of the conditioning. But he's going to work his way back slowly; he's a veteran and he knows what it takes. He had a huge shot for us down the stretch and we got to have him back for the stretch run. It's a tough run coming up here, these home and road games, and we need a little bit from everybody."

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

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Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pasta
Schaller-Nash-Backes
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano
White

Chara-Carlo
Miller-McAvoy
Krug-Postma

Rask
Khudobin