Dooling looking to make up for lost time

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After Keyon Dooling missed time in the first half, the Celtics are hoping for more production.BOSTON -- Earlier in the blog we noted how Celtics coach Doc Rivers has shortened his bench and is utilizing a mere nine-man rotation with the goal of erasing some of the inconsistencies that plagued Boston over the first half of the season.

One of the underperforming players getting a chance to distinguish himself is veteran combo guard Keyon Dooling. Acquired during the offseason in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, Dooling endured a frustrating first half while battling hip and knee ailments that limited him to 16 of the team's 32 games before the All-Star break.

Now operating almost exclusively as a shooting guard, Dooling has seen his court time jump up over the last 10 games and, while he's struggled at times with his shot, Rivers is hoping to get him going a bit.

"Keyon basically missed the beginning of the year, then he missed a big stretch [late in the first half due to injury]," said Rivers. "Keyon hasn't played a lot of games and he's had very few practices with us. He's just trying to get his rhythm. What I love about him is he plays hard every night and he plays with energy. And he's a threat behind the 3[-point line]."

Over the last 10 games, Dooling is averaging 3.1 points and 1.3 assists over 14.6 minutes per game and shooting just 24.3 percent from the floor during that stretch. The one thing Dooling doesn't lack is confidence, however, and even though he made just 1-of-9 trifectas in wins over Milwaukee and New Jersey, he isn't afraid to keep firing away. For the season, the 12th-year guard is averaging 4.9 points and 1.3 assists per game. Dooling's only bucket Sunday came on a 21-foot jumper late in the first quarter and he finished with two points, an assist, and a steal over 9 minutes, 24 seconds against the Knicks.

Unlike teammates Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic, Dooling is a veteran with his confidence still intact. The Celtics know they need more from their bench -- even as the rotation shortens up and it's harder for players to get on the court -- and it's clear that Rivers hopes he can get Dooling to evolve into a solid contributor during this stretch run.