LOS ANGELES – The stats were better suited for a backup big man than one of the NBA’s smoothest shooters.

Three baskets, five fouls.

Those were the final numbers of Ray Allen, who spent much of Game 1 of the NBA finals trudging back to the bench after picking up another foul.

And it’s pretty simple for the Boston Celtics: They aren’t going to win with Allen as a spectator.

“Ray has to play,” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. “We have to get Ray the ball.”

They couldn’t do that nearly enough in their 102-89 loss to Los Angeles on Thursday night, because Allen was limited to just 27 minutes. He took only eight shots and scored 12 points, robbing the Celtics of the perimeter threat they sorely need to soften the Lakers’ defense.

“It was frustrating. For sure it was frustrating,” Allen said. “I’ve anticipated this moment since the last time we were here. So you figure, last year losing in the second round, wanting to get back here, thinking about the summertime and then playing the whole season and having a great playoffs, playoffs as a team. And then getting into the game, we waited six or seven days. So it wasn’t my intention.”

Part of the problem is that Allen is assigned to guard Kobe Bryant, the MVP of last year’s NBA finals who got a head start on a repeat with 30 points in Game 1.

Rivers said after the game the Celtics may need to make an adjustment.

But Friday, Rivers noted that two of Allen’s early fouls weren’t committed against Bryant.

“He got the one on (Derek) Fisher, he got the reach-in foul on (Pau) Gasol,” Rivers said. “Those are the fouls that Ray has to avoid.”

Allen picked up his first foul less than 30 seconds into the game and was on the bench with two after barely 5 minutes. He was on the floor for less than half the first half — and then things really got frustrating.

Allen went back to the bench early in the third quarter after being whistled for his fourth. He returned later in the quarter, then was out of the game again 31 seconds later after picking up No. 5. He played 3:27 of the quarter, when the game got away.

“I think a lot of times (Thursday) night when I was going back and forth to the bench, it put us in recovery mode,” Allen said.

When that happens, Allen said, the Celtics need Tony Allen, or whoever replaces him, to step up. And while Tony Allen is a superb athlete and capable defender, he’s a poor perimeter shooter.

Boston had a good option against Bryant two years ago in valuable reserve James Posey, a strong defensive player. That left Allen with more freedom to focus on his own offense.

But Allen insists that defending Bryant doesn’t affect him, noting that he had to cover both Dwyane Wade and sometimes LeBron James earlier in the postseason. He came into the finals averaging 16.8 points in the playoffs, second on the team to Paul Pierce.

“I’m in good shape,” said Allen, who will turn 35 next month. “I did it against Miami, I did it against Cleveland. I feel in no ways tired out there when I’m on the floor, it’s just us doing the right things, being in the right position, making it easier on each other. So my energy is always great out there and I feel great.”


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