|No big surprise: Jefferson and Perkins expected success||02.01.09 at 4:26 pm ET|
If someone had said during the Boston Celtics 18-game losing streak Kendrick Perkins would win an NBA Championship and Al Jefferson would become an All-Star caliber player in less than two years, they would have been laughed at. Yet the pair of big men have made a remarkable turnaround from the dismal 2007 season. And while their accomplishments may have seemed unlikely just a few seasons ago, neither are surprised by the others success.
‘It’s funny because his game has improved a lot, of course, because every year you have in this league you get better and better,’ Jefferson said of Perkins. ‘But the things he’s doing now, I’d even seen them when I was here.’
Jefferson and Perkins faced off on Sunday when the Celtics took on the Timberwolves in Boston. (RECAP HERE) Perkins was nonchalant about the match up — ‘Man, I just want to hoop’ — and seemed unfazed by the success of his close friend. The two had a strong chemistry on and off the court, and saw potential in one another early on. So when Jefferson was the centerpiece of the Kevin Garnett deal, Perkins wasn’t shocked.
‘He’s grown a lot, but he was doing the same thing when he was here,’ Perkins said. ‘It’s not like he just developed into this star player when he got to Minnesota. That’s why he got traded for Garnett, because he was that type of player before he left here.’
In Jefferson’s last season with the Celtics, he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds. This season he is ranked first among all centers in scoring (23.2 ppg), fifth in rebounds (10.6), and has recorded 26 double-doubles.
‘I think Al is really learning how to be a leader,’ Perkins said. ‘You can tell he’s talking more, he’s communicating on the court, he’s telling guys where they need to be. I think Al’s stepping up, being more of a vocal leader. He’s taking pride in playing defense and it’s really just going from there.’
Even when the Celtics were losing, Jefferson was one of the bright spots on the team. Perkins, however, struggled to learn his role as a defensive presence. He forced baskets and was reluctant to scale down his offensive game.
‘The biggest thing when I was here was he was the type of guy who wanted to rush his offense, he wanted to take shots, he wanted to kind of like be a scorer,’ Jefferson said. ‘And Doc (Rivers) used to always tell him, ‘You’re not a scorer. You’re the type of guy who sets pick and rolls. That’s how you get your point.’ And I think that’s what he’s doing now. He finally accepted that and now he gets his points. He scores just as much now just doing his role by setting picks and rolling to the front of the basket, getting offensive rebounds. He’s getting his points that way and I think he’s finally accepted his role and that’s what’s making him a great player.’
It took losing the player he relied on the most for Perkins to improve his game. He is averaging 8.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and shooting 59.5% from the field this season, compared to 4.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 49.1% FG in his last season before the trade. Perkins soaked up Garnett’s veteran knowledge and even began to implement a high-low pass that he learned from Jefferson.
‘That’s all he really needed was a guy like KG who was defensive-minded just to bring him up even more,’ Jefferson said. ‘So the things he’s doing now, I’d seen them when I was here. Perk was always one of the guys that was hard for me to score on even in practice. We used to go at each other so it’s fun watching him grow as a player.’
At just 24 years old, Jefferson and Perkins are only beginning to reach their potential. But regardless of how successful the other becomes, it’ll be no big surprise for these big men.
Perkins Cool With Call – By Jessica Camerato
The Captain and the Truth – By Paul Flannery
|A Big All-Star Push||01.23.09 at 9:47 am ET|
When is there a possibility that 22 points and nearly 11 rebounds per game not good enough for an All-Star selection? When you play on the 13-27 Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Big Al” Jefferson has been quietly running up the leaderboards since being traded from the Boston Celtics in July of 2007. His performance, which includes 22 double-doubles, went relatively unnoticed in fan voting. So the T’Wolves are doing everything they can to make sure Jefferson receives the recognition he deserves in spite of their losing record.
The organization has less than a week to win the votes of the Western Conference coaches who will vote on All-Star reserves. They have developed a marketing campaign ‘ ‘Big Al’s Road Trip: Navigating his way to Phoenix’ ‘ and mailed each coach a Sony GPS device. The devices have been named the ‘Double-Double Machine’ and play a highlight video set to Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Superstar.’
“It would mean a lot,” Jefferson told the media. “Just growing up, before I even knew I was going to be an NBA player, just watching the All-Star games on TV you always wanted to be there as a kid. Me having that chance to make it, it would mean a lot to me. It’s something I could talk about for the rest of my life.”
All-Star reserves will be revealed next Thursday, January 29. Celtics Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins are also on the Eastern Conference ballot. Kevin Garnett was named as a starting forward for the East.
|Walker committed to Boston||01.22.09 at 12:10 am ET|
Bill Walker has close ties to his community. So close, in fact, that he tattooed the numbers of his childhood address on his neck. When the Boston Celtics rookie got recalled from the NBA Development League this month, he was eager to give back to the city he’s now calling home.
Last weekend Walker, along with Kendrick Perkins, Gabe Pruitt, and J.R. Giddens, served home-cooked meals to 150 men and women at the Boston Rescue Mission. The food was prepared by members of the Celtics staff as part of the Shamrock Foundation.
‘[The best part was] just them being so happy that we’re there,’ Walker said. ‘Just being somebody who actually could take enough time to come down there and just sit and talk with them, serve them food, things like that. Little things like that do mean a lot to people.’
Boston is one of the many places where Walker, 21, wants to make a difference. Even though he is just starting his NBA career, he already has made plans for years to come.
‘That’s just something I want to do when I’m done with basketball, just to try to help the communities that I’m in first and then expand,’ Walker said. ‘So that was just fun, going back and trying to cheer up a couple people.’
For more information on the Celtics community outreach, visit www.celtics.com.
|Suns expecting big game from Shaq||01.19.09 at 7:38 pm ET|
‘Any time we get an opportunity to have a size difference with Shaq in the paint, we always try to go to him,’ Amare Stoudemire said prior to Monday’s game. ‘We try to feed it to him, see if he can take advantage of that. And if not, we go to our other options. So tonight will be a pretty good night for Big Fella if he can dominate out there and stay out of foul trouble.’
The Celtics have to alter their plan of attack without Kendrick Perkins (shoulder). Doc Rivers is looking for Kevin Garnett to use his quickness to outplay Shaq, while the biggest mission for back ups Leon Powe, Glen Davis, and Brian Scalabrine is keeping a body between O’Neal and the basket. The Suns, though, aren’t changing their gameplan.
‘I think it changes the fact that having Scalabrine starting as opposed to Kendrick Perkins, that’s a bit of a difference. But as opponents we can’t look at it that way,’ said Stoudemire. ‘We’ve got to attack it as if he were playing, so we should go inside to the big fella. Shaq should have a pretty good game tonight.’
The Suns are one of the few teams who figured out the key to beating the Celtics last season. Stoudemire scored 28 points off of 10-for-23 shooting and Steve Nash added 18 in the Suns’ 85-77 victory. Combine that with former Charlotte Bobcat Jason Richardson’s success against the Cs and the Suns think they know how to get it done tonight.
‘I’m pretty sure he knows how to defend the guards out there,’ Stoudemir said of Richardson. ‘As a team, we’ve just got to pull together. We beat them last year, Bobcats beat them. What we’ve got to do is just keep playing how we’ve been playing.’
|Celtics to serve 150 home-cooked meals||01.16.09 at 11:01 am ET|
This Sunday members of the Boston Celtics will serve home-cooked meals to 150 homeless men and women at the Boston Rescue Mission. Kendrick Perkins, Patrick O’Bryant, Gabe Pruitt, and Bill Walker will distribute meals prepared by members of the Celtics staff as part of the Celtics Shamrock Foundation and Martin Luther King Day. For more information on the Celtics Shamrock Foundation’s community outreach, visit www.celtics.com.
|Rhythm key for Perkins||01.14.09 at 7:27 pm ET|
Before Wednesday night’s game against the New Jersey Nets, Kendrick Perkins broke a sweat working on his post moves. He banked shots over Patrick O’Bryant and then sprinted down the court at the orders of Sam Cassell. This would seem like just another night, except Perkins is injured. That isn’t stopping the big man, though, from keeping his rhythm.
‘I’m just trying to stay on top of my conditioning,’ Perkins said prior to the game. ‘I don’t want to lose my rhythm so I’m working on my post moves, doing a lot of shots, I did some jump roping, and a lot of court running, and stuff like that. I don’t want to be too far off.’
Perkins will miss at least a week with a reoccurring shoulder injury. It has plagued him since a Christmas Day game against the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, and is the explanation behind his recent inconsistency on the glass. As a precaution, Perkins is avoiding physical contact. Other than that, he’s following the same routine.
‘I just [can’t] play basketball, contact, that’s it,’ he said. ‘I hit the weights earlier today so it’s getting better by the day … You’ve got to scale back but it never really fell off. I’m pretty much on the same page, I’m just doing different type of exercises now to work different parts of the muscle, so that’s really what I’m concentrating on.’
Perkins hopes to play next Monday against the Phoenix Suns, but said he is not going to rush his return. As for Brian Scalabrine, who has been filling in for Perkins, his return against Shaquille O’Neal would be perfect timing.
‘Wow,’ said a wide-eyed Scalabrine, unaware of the upcoming match up. ‘I’d like the opportunity to start but Perk is the guy who should be on the Diesel.’
|Cs to be challenged by one of their own||01.08.09 at 11:42 pm ET|
Before Rajon Rondo was taking hard spills on the court, it was Delonte West who was sacrificing his body for the Boston Celtics. Two years after leaving the Cs as part of the Ray Allen deal, West has brought his hustle to the Cleveland where it has sparked LeBron James and the streaking Cavaliers. Those who played with West early in his career are not surprised by his success.
‘There’s no doubt that I thought before Delonte even went there, I thought Delonte was a perfect fit for LeBron James,’ said Brian Scalabrine, a teammate of two seasons. ‘When he got traded to Seattle and he wasn’t playing for whatever, it’s just all about the place you go and where you fit in.’
West has fit in perfectly since being dealt from the Seattle SuperSonics last season. The addition of West, along with Mo Williams, is an upgrade to the Cavaliers backcourt that once relied heavily on James’ long-range game. Rather than compensating for the inconsistencies of Daniel Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic, James can play closer to the basket without worrying about their guards.
West’s gritty defense is also a factor in the Cavs’ NBA-low 89.1 points allowed per game (down from 96.7 last season). His intensity will be challenging for the Celtics to contain when they take on the Cavaliers on Friday night.
‘D-West has helped them a lot,’ said Kendrick Perkins, who played three seasons with West. ‘He puts another shooter out there on the court for LeBron to pass it to when he drives and penetrates. D-West can make plays. He’s a defender, he’s very feisty, and D-West helps their team a lot. We’ve just got to make sure we go out there and try to keep him under control, keep him off the offensive rebounding, try to get in his aspects a little bit, and just go from there.’
After losing for three years in Boston and inexplicably riding the bench in Seattle, West inked a multi-year deal last summer to stay in Cleveland. Even though his tough play could burn the Celtics this season, his former teammates know he’s in the right place.
Said Scalabrine, ‘I told him when he came here (with the Cavs), ‘Listen, you’re in a place where you can be, as long as LeBron is there, you can be there for the rest of your career and you can thrive in that situation.”
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