|Ray Allen: ‘We’ve been less than ourselves’ without Kendrick Perkins||01.25.11 at 11:49 pm ET|
Following Kendrick Perkins‘ early return to the Celtics lineup, just about everybody was asked about the team’s 26-year-old center, and Ray Allen — dressed in a Shaft-like leather jacket and a sweater that went up to his nose — was no different.
“We’ve kind of been less than ourselves over the last three or fourth months, just waiting,” said Allen of Perkins’ absence this season. “We’ve had great success with the guys we’ve been using, but we haven’t had the lineup that’s been consistent here over the last three and a half years, when we’ve been successful and won some big games, including the championship. So, it’s great to see him back out on the floor, and it just makes us that much stronger.”
The vibe in the Celtics locker room felt different after the team disposed of the Cavaliers, 112-95, and it’s because, like Jerry Maguire, Perkins completes them.
“When he went down, obviously eyes around the world were on him,” added Allen. “Everybody felt a little sympathy for us, because we weren’t whole. Him coming back has a great symbolism to it, because we know what we’re trying to get back to.”
Perkins’ return was a reminder of how close the Celtics came to winning another NBA title last season before he went down with his ACL injury in Game 6 of the finals, especially considering his six rebounds in 17 minutes on Tuesday night.
And before the C’s get back to where they want to go, they’ll have another reminder of that Game 7 loss when they visit the Staples Center for the first time since to take on the Lakers on Sunday afternoon. But Allen’s blocking that from his memory.
“I’d like that to sneak up on me,” he said, “and just not think about it.”
Kendrick Perkins was the happiest person in the Garden on Tuesday night as he made a successful return to game action in 16 minutes of the Celtics‘ 112-95 romp over the Cavaliers. Perkins came in with 8:02 left in the first quarter to replace Semih Erden and played his first five minutes of the season.
Perkins – who had reconstructive ACL surgery on his right knee – scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds in his first game since injuring the knee in Game 6 of the NBA finals last June.
“I’ve got to play a few more games first. I surprised myself on a few plays today, just finishing, a couple rebounds, it felt real good,” he said. “I know I can do better, I could do more. I was mad at myself, I didn’t block any shots today. I was little winded and little off-key. I’ll get better.”
Perkins also admitted he was very tired after the game since he didn’t sleep on Monday night because he was so excited. He spent a good portion of the night in Waltham at the team’s practice facility.
“I didn’t sleep [Monday] night,” Perkins added. “I actually left the gym [Tuesday] morning about 1 o’clock and went to the gym [Monday] night at 10 so that’s probably why I’m tired right now.”
He certainly got the wake-up call when Doc Rivers called out “Perk!” after Semih Erden picked up two fouls in the first four minutes Tuesday.
‘I thought he was terrific,” Rivers said. “I thought as the game went on his timing got better. I thought defensively he was terrific from the start. Just communication, we were loud again defensively which was nice. You could hear him and Kevin [Garnett] barking orders defensively and that makes us really good.’
Rivers is not expecting to throw Perk back into the starting lineup just because he felt good running up and down the court – and especially not against the likes of the Trail Blazers, Suns and Lakers.
‘It’s the same, about the same amount of minutes,” Rivers said, referring to the 16 he played Tuesday. “He actually probably played one or two more minutes than we anticipated. He wanted to stay in. But I think that’ll be it for a while, between 16 and 18 minutes.’
But the best compliment Rivers paid Perk was about his work ethic, the one trait that explains his remarkable return – like Wes Welker – just seven months after blowing out his ACL.
“That was awesome,” Rivers said of the 20-second standing ovation as Perkins made his way to the scorer’s table for the first time. “Listen, there’s people in the crowd that work hard every day, blue collar, and Perk identifies with all those people. If you are a guy that works 9-5, you’ve got to love Perk because that’s who he is.’
And no, there were no references to feet by Perk in his post-game address to reporters. Well, at least he’s off on the right foot.
In his first action since Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Kendrick Perkins came off the bench to a standing ovation and contributed seven points and six rebounds in just over 17 minutes during a 112-95 blowout of the Cavaliers Tuesday night in Boston.
The Celtics (34-10) projected Perkins would play 12-15 minutes in his return, but he exceeded expectations all night. Of course, it helped that the C’s were playing Cleveland (8-37), losers of 18 straight.
Paul Pierce netted 24 points in just 23:58 on the floor. Shortly after coming down awkwardly on a shot attempt and moving gingerly on his right leg up and down the floor a few times, he exited the game with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Perk’s return: Even in a rusty 15 minutes a night, Perkins makes a huge difference in the Celtics lineup — especially with both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal sidelined with leg injuries and the team in desperate need of big bodies.
Just under four minutes into the game, with starter Semih Erden picking up his second foul in the first 3:58, the Celtics turned to Perkins. And 35 seconds later, after a standing ovation, Perkins proved himself, converting a layup plus the foul. He ran the floor and hit the boards hard on both ends of the floor — a cruel reminder of what might have been had he played Game 7 of the finals last season.
Pierce starts fierce: Playing the entire first quarter, Pierce knocked down 6-of-8 shots to score 17 of the team’s 34 points in the opening 12 minutes. During that span, he also exchanged words with Cleveland’s Joey Graham, whoever that is.
The Celtics captain scored 24 points by halftime and left the game midway through the third quarter. He stayed on the bench for the rest of the game, without treatment, so there should be little concern about his slight limp before his exit.
The bench showed up: Given his recent struggles, the Celtics had to be pleased to see Nate Robinson knock down 3-of-8 3-point attempts. He led the charge, as the C’s got at least seven points from all five available guys off the bench (including Perkins). Glen Davis (11 points) and Von Wafer (10) also reached double figures.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Slow start on defense: Allowing the worst team in the league to score 26 first-quarter points and shoot 53 percent from the field for the opening 12 minutes isn’t what the Celtics were looking for when they welcomed the Cavaliers to town.
Cleveland actually owned a 23-21 lead late in the first quarter. It took a 21-5 that stretched into the middle of the second quarter for the Celtics to take control.
‘Big Baby’ not a happy camper: When Glen Davis picked up his second foul with seven minutes to play in the half, he let his frustration be known as he returned to the bench. After he was whistled for a third personal a few minutes later, the referees heard it from louder this time — as he picked up a technical, too.
Not much: When the game is in control from the early portion of the second quarter on, and the Celtics cruised to victory, it’d be nitpicking to find too much wrong with their effort … other than Pierce’s rendition of Enrique Iglesias‘ “I Like It” on the Jumbotron. Then again, Enrique Iglesias’ version isn’t much better.
|Welcome back, Kendrick Perkins||at 8:06 pm ET|
After missing the first 43 games of the season rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee, Kendrick Perkins took the court for the first time with his Celtics teammates on Tuesday night as they played the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Perkins injured the knee in the first half of Game 6 of the 2010 NBA finals in Los Angeles as the Celtics – without their starting center and defensive, shot-blocking presence in the low post – lost Games 6 and 7, falling just short of a record-18th NBA title.
Three different players – Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden – have started at center this season and while Perkins is coming off the bench, his return Tuesday certainly bolsters the depth at that position.
Shaq had started 17 straight and 33 overall before injuring his right hip on Friday against the Jazz. Erden has started the last two and now six overall. Jermaine O’Neal has started the remaining five times in the low post.
Doc Rivers would not commit to when Perk will eventually return to the starting lineup and until then, it’s likely to be Erden getting most of the minutes.
Perkins returned to game action with 8:02 left in the first quarter when Erden picked up two quick fouls. He lasted until 2:37 left, giving him five minutes, 25 seconds of continuous action. He collected a lay-up, missed a free throw, grabbed a rebound, dished out two assists and picked up a foul.
|Kendrick Perkins returns||at 7:24 pm ET|
About an hour before the Celtics were to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kendrick Perkins rolled through the locker room and found about 20 reporters congregating by his locker. Someone asked if he had lobbied coach Doc Rivers to play Tuesday night, 10 days ahead of his scheduled target date of Feb. 4. “I probably did,” he said with a smile as he tried to deflect the obvious: He’s back.
Perkins returns about seven months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during Game 6 of the NBA finals and about six months after having surgery. It’s been quite a turnaround for Perkins, who had his first live practice on Jan. 16. As late as Monday, Rivers said he wouldn’t rush Perkins back, even with injuries keeping both Shaquille O’Neal (hip) and Jermaine O’Neal (knee) out of the lineup.
Later that night, team trainer Eddie Lacerte and team doctor Brian McKeon told Rivers that Perkins was ready.
“I didn’t think he’d play on this [upcoming west coast] trip, but it wasn’t a big surprise when they walked in,” Rivers said. “When they came in together I knew what they were coming in for, so I was all for it.”
Perkins won’t start yet and Rivers said he was on a restriction on 12-16 minutes. “It’s going to take Perk some time,” Rivers said. “Listen, you don’t miss the amount of games that he’s missed and have the injury that he has and think that because he’s going to play tonight he’s going to be the Perk that you saw the last time.”
Still, with the injuries to the O’Neal’s (Shaq may return Friday, Jermaine O’Neal is out until after the All-Star break) his return has become an important component of the second half of the season. Rivers has not been able to develop a bench with all the injuries affecting various members of the second unit.
For now, Perkins adds depth at a position that needs some, but once he’s able to work his back into the starting lineup he’ll allow Rivers the flexibility to use Shaq and Glen Davis off the bench.
“It’s just another piece we’re adding is the way I’m looking at it,” Rivers said. “That’s great for us. The healthier we can get, the better we can get, the more consistent we can become and we can start rolling. It’s tough to grow as a team when half your team, or at least your bench, is not playing.”
Perkins’ teammates were obviously thrilled with the development. They have been impressed with how hard he’s worked. Perkins said last week that he has lost eight pounds and he appears trimmer and in better shape than when he was injured.
“I’m just hoping he doesn’t foul out in those 16 minutes,” Rivers joked. “Which is very likely.”
|The Celtics won’t rush Kendrick Perkins back||01.24.11 at 4:14 pm ET|
It has to be tempting for the Celtics to see Kendrick Perkins going through live practice sessions and think they need to get him back on the floor now. With Jermaine O’Neal out four weeks for rest and rehab on his injured knee and Shaquille O’Neal likely to miss at least the next two games with a sore hip, the team’s depth at center is once again down to Semih Erden and Glen Davis.
That’s enough to get through a game here or there, and that’s the way the Celtics are going to play it because they are taking the longview on Perkins’ return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Doc Rivers acknowledged Monday that Perkins has already begun lobbying to come back sooner, but it’s falling on deaf ears.
“Honestly, he wants to play tomorrow,” Rivers said. “He’s already approached me about that. The only consideration is when [trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and Dr. [Brian] McKeon say you can play him. I’m not going to listen to Perk, I can tell you that.”
Perkins has targeted Feb. 4 against the Mavericks as his potential return date and the Celtics have five games left between now and then. They play the Cavs Tuesday at the Garden and then head out for a four-game west coast trip.
It’s unlikely that Shaq will play in the first game Thursday at Portland for a number of reasons — it’s a long flight and it’s the first of a back-to-back with Phoenix on Friday. “I think [Shaq will] play in at least one or two of the games for sure, but I don’t [know] that positively.”
The Celtics have made it this far being patient with injuries. They can afford to wait a little longer.
|Kendrick Perkins eyes early February return||01.16.11 at 4:08 pm ET|
All of a sudden Kendrick Perkins‘ return from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament has gone from a luxury to a necessity. With Jermaine O’Neal contemplating knee surgery of his own and Shaquille O’Neal a day-to-day proposition, the Celtics depth at center is becoming a concern.
Perkins reached an important milestone Sunday afternoon when he was able to go through an entire practice. He said that he is targeting Feb. 4, when the Celtics play the Mavericks at the Garden as a return date. Without Shaq, who slipped on ice and strained his adductor muscle in his right leg, Perkins returned to his customary position alongside Kevin Garnett in the starting five.
“It did feel good to be out there again,” Perkins said. “We did some good things together. I didn’t have a sub today so I was a little tired, but it was cool.”
“Phenomenal,” Doc Rivers said. “He looked great. He’s in great shape. Today was the first time all year that we actually had a real first unit on the floor. It was another level because they could run anything they wanted.”
Perkins wasted little time getting his menacing groove back. He leveled Marquis Daniels with a pick, which sent Daniels to the sidelines after his back tightened up. Daniels sat out the rest of practice, but said he thought he would be fine to play Monday against Orlando.
“I hit him on a flat screen,” Perkins said. “I told him, ‘My bad,’ but he said it was a good pick so it wasn’t illegal, but I did hit him on a flat screen.”
From outward appearances, Perkins looks like he’s in the best shape of his life although there’s a big difference between regular shape and basketball shape, particularly when it comes to conditioning. While he has been out Perkins has lost about eight pounds to get down to 272. The eight pounds may not seem like much, but it makes a big difference for a big man playing on a surgically-repaired knee.
“I was just scared of gaining weight,” Perkins said. “I kind of starved myself a little bit. It was hard. Once they told me I could get in the weight room, I really got in the weight room.”
Despite the brace on his knee, Perkins said he’s not thinking about it while he’s out on the court. “I’ve never been scared of injuries or anything like that,” he said. “So, I feel like if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
As with all their injured players, the Celtics won’t rush anyone back before they’re ready. While it may be tempting to push Perkins back even quicker if Jermaine O’Neal does have surgery, they won’t go down that road. An early February return would be ambitious enough.
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