The Allen expressway

Celtics guard Ray Allen had eight three-pointers on 10 tries, finishing with 36 points. (Sun...

Celtics guard Ray Allen had eight three-pointers on 10 tries, finishing with 36 points. (Sun Media/Jack Boland)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

The Raptors aren't sure what to do about Ray Allen which, considering they are going to see him again tonight, is not good.

With a season-high three-game home winning streak hanging in the balance, the Raptors nearly pulled off a major comeback in the fourth quarter yesterday against the Boston Celtics before losing 94-88 to the defending NBA champs at the Air Canada Centre.

Down 20 points when the quarter began, the Raptors came alive and outscored the visitors 33-19 in the final 12 minutes. Had they been able to get Allen under control earlier in the game, it's probable no late comeback would have been required.

Before the first quarter was done, Allen had hit all five of his three-point attempts -- breaking the Raptors' record for most allowed in one quarter, which had been four and done 18 times. Toronto never was really able to crawl out from the crevice that Allen created with his white-hot shooting.

"I don't know how much differently we can guard that," coach Jay Triano said. "It's hard to blame any of our guys. They did a nice job of finding him on the weak-side wing.

'KEPT GOING'

"We gave him a couple of looks and, when a guy like that gets confidence and had it going, he is just going to shoot the ball well. He just kept going. We made some adjustments after the first couple, but by that point the damage was done."

Allen finished with a season-high 36 points, including eight three-pointers on 10 tries, a statistic that Raptors star Chris Bosh called "abnormal."

Starting guard Jose Calderon returned to the Raptors lineup after missing four games with a strained hamstring, but he won't be in uniform tonight when the Raptors and Celtics hook up again in Boston. Calderon played just less than 22 minutes, but left after the third quarter and said after the game his hamstring was tight and sore. He didn't travel with his teammates last night, and neither did Jermaine O'Neal, who will miss his eighth consecutive game tonight with a knee injury.

The Celtics, atop the Atlantic Division with a 30-9 record, had lost four in a row and seven of their previous nine games. The Raptors, who have compiled an 8-13 mark under Triano since the firing of Sam Mitchell last month, had won four of their previous five matches.

Though they were burned by Allen, the Raptors figured they will be buoyed tonight by their play in the fourth quarter before a sold-out crowd of 19,800 at the ACC.

Despite being in a 75-55 hole when the final 12 minutes started ticking down, the Raptors found some energy and were more aggressive in the paint. Perhaps it was because they thought they had nothing to lose, but it almost worked.

"I think the fourth quarter really showed us if we continue to move the ball, stop staying stagnant and make hard cuts, we can score pretty easily," Bosh said. "It adds a lot of confidence. We fought back as a team. We have to take some positives out of what we did."

Trouble is, if Allen, who has said in the past that a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder has helped result in his career-long ability to hit three-pointers, is on track again tonight, whether the Raptors have more confidence might not matter.

"It felt awkward for me," Allen said of the 12:30 p.m. tip. "Normally, I would get to the gym at the time we started our meeting at the hotel. Early in the game, we created a good flow on offence. I just played in what we were doing, and we were moving the ball."

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REPLAY

JOSE PERFECT

Jose Calderon made all four of his free-throw attempts and is closing in on the NBA record for consecutive free throws made. Calderon is third in NBA history with 79 in a row, 18 off the record of 97 set by Minnesota's Micheal Williams in '93. Calderon has made all 76 of his free throws this season.

TRADING SECRETS

Joey Graham and Celtics' Brian Scalabrine had some harsh words for each other at one point, bringing fans out of their seats. "We were just in the heat of the moment," Graham said. "We were good sports. Nothing really happened."

POINTS PAINS

The 36 points by Ray Allen, marked the 10th time this season the Raps have allowed an opponent to score at least 30 points in a game. It's also the fourth time in the past five games an opponent has netted at least 30 point.


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