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Garnett to sit vs. Heat with strained ab muscle; flu bug hits Allen

MIAMI -- When asked how long Kevin Garnett's strained
abdominal muscle could keep him sidelined, Boston Celtics coach Doc
Rivers didn't have an exact answer.

"You know Doc's a nickname, correct?" deadpanned the coach,
whose given name is Glenn.

Too bad. The Celtics could probably use an extra doctor these
days.

Garnett's injury kept him out again and Ray Allen was sidelined
with the flu Tuesday night when the NBA-leading Celtics pounded the
Miami Heat 117-87.

The decision to not play Garnett was announced in the morning
shootaround; Allen's illness -- part of a bug that's gone around the
team for about a week, Rivers said -- was revealed about 90 minutes
before tip-off.

"Somebody has to pick it up," Rivers said. "Nobody's going to
be Kevin Garnett tonight. Nobody's going to be Ray Allen."

Brian Scalabrine started in Garnett's place and Tony Allen took
Allen's starting spot Tuesday for the Celtics, who entered the game
with a 34-8 record and a three-game lead over New Orleans in the
race for the NBA's best record.

Garnett also sat out Sunday's 96-93 loss in Orlando because of
the muscle problem, which he suffered in Friday's home win over the
Minnesota Timberwolves. Rivers said he chose to give Garnett
another game off to ensure that what seems now like a minor injury
doesn't turn into a major problem.

"He always wants to play, which is good," Rivers said. "But
he understands it's the right thing for the team."

It was the second straight game Boston played without Garnett,
its second-leading scorer (19.2) and leading rebounder (9.9).

"It's not like this is a hard decision," Rivers said.

Garnett strained the muscle last Friday in Boston's one-point
home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, and apparently lobbied
Rivers to play Sunday when Boston visited the Orlando Magic. He
told Boston reporters that if he could "blink" or "wake up,"
then he would deem himself ready to play.

Rivers didn't necessarily agree, although he did acknowledge
that if these games were of major importance -- like a playoff game
-- then Garnett would likely be playing with the injury.

"But I don't know if he could play well," Rivers said. "And I
don't know if he did play if he wouldn't get hurt."

It's unclear if Garnett will play Thursday when Boston hosts the
Dallas Mavericks.

"If he can play Thursday, we'll play him," Rivers said. "But
again, it's got to be almost 100 percent. That's the way I look at
those types of injuries."

Allen's status for Thursday is also unknown.

"Every team goes through it," Rivers said. "We just have to
keep working every day and improving as a team and understanding
where we're trying to go."

Heat forward Udonis Haslem sprained his left ankle
in the second quarter of the game.

Haslem, the only Miami player to start all 43 Heat games this
season, did not return. X-rays were negative. Haslem is averaging
12.1 points and 9.3 rebounds for Miami.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.