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Against Howard, Perk stays grounded

05.20.10 at 2:59 pm ET
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Kendrick Perkins (right) mostly has kept Dwight Howard in his grasp in this series. (AP)

Kendrick Perkins (right) mostly has kept Dwight Howard in his grasp in this series. (AP)

WALTHAM — Before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Kendrick Perkins was apprised that several media outlets were getting on Dwight Howard after he scored just 13 points in the series opener. Perkins’ eyes grew wide and then he sighed.

“What happens is, y’all gas the man up and get him mad,” Perkins said to WEEI.com. “Then I come out and I got my hands full.”

Perkins did have his hands full with Howard in Game 2 as the big man scored 30 points. Not that Perkins was around for most of it since he fouled out in just 15 minutes of action.

“Do I take it personally? Yep, I do,” Perkins said Thursday before the team’s practice session. “I’m a defender so I do take it personally. Guy got 30 on me, but it happens to the best of us. We ended up getting a win, so that’s really all that matters.”

Still Perkins knows that he has to do better in Game 3 and that starts even before the ball gets to Howard.

“You’ve got to keep a body on him,” he said. “It’s going to be physical all series. That’s the key. You can’t let him set up shop where he wants to set up shop. You’ve got to kind of force him outside his comfort zone just a little bit.”

In theory, the Celtics are OK if Howard goes off. It’s when Howard goes off and everyone else for Orlando gets in on the act that’s a problem.

“We don’t want him to go for 30, but when he goes for 30 he goes for 30, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Rivers said. “As long as he didn’t go for 30 and get everyone else involved, we can live with it. We were not happy with the way we defended him. We did not have a great night defending Dwight. We have to do better. We have to expect somebody on their team to start making shots. If we give him 30+ and they start making shots then you can’t beat them.”

Again that starts with not letting Howard get deep post position because once he does, it’s game over.

“He caught it too deep throughout the game,” Rivers said. “Some of the shots he made, we’ll live with. We don’t mind any made shot if it’s defended. Jumpers, layups, we don’t care.”

Perkins, of course, does care a great deal about his defense on Howard. It’s the thing that has helped make his reputation over the years. But he also recognizes that a key element of the Celtics defensive strategy is that he will be afforded no help in his task.

It’s his role in this series and he’s determined to do a better job in Game 3.

“We’re just trying to make it tough on him,” Perkins said. “We’re not trying to overreact to him scoring.”

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