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Jackie MacMullan on D&H: Celtics’ problems at center critical 02.11.11 at 1:12 pm ET
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Basketball Hall of Fame writer Jackie MacMullan joined the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the Celtics and news from around the NBA. While Kobe Bryant scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half to spark a Lakers comeback Thursday night, MacMullan attributed most of the blame for the Celtics’ loss on their sudden lack of depth at center. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“That was the game in a nutshell,” she said. “Their bigs just played really, really well, crushed them on the boards, made things happen in the paint. We know Kobe can turn it on, as he did in the second half. And we all knew when he had three points at halftime that it wouldn’t end that way. But to me, it really was about what went on in the paint last night.”

Ray Allen broke the NBA record for career 3-pointers Thursday night. MacMullan noted that despite the lofty praise, Allen has not always been the most coachable player. Said MacMullan: “It was just so funny to me how, as he was approaching the record, everyone was saying, ‘Oh, Ray Allen, a coach’s dream, the greatest veteran, what a model, an ambassador for the NBA.’ And I was thinking, ‘Whoa.’ I can remember a lot of coaches that really struggled with Ray, including the one here.

“And that doesn’t mean they don’t love him ‘€” and certainly Doc [Rivers] and Ray have found their way together ‘€” but that’s not who Ray is. Ray’s going to challenge you and Ray’s going to question you. Because he wants things to work within his own parameters. And to me, that was the most interesting part about this quest for the 3-point title, was he did it through multiple coaches, each of whom at one point or another I’m sure were saying, ‘This guy drives me nuts!’ ”

Addressing the rumors of a trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers, MacMullan noted that Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been looking to trim payroll, not add to it. Plus, the Lakers already have a title-contending team without adding a player with defensive liabilities who would take some time to learn the triangle offense. “It just didn’t make sense to me,” she said. “Not if you’re the Lakers and you’re right there.”

MacMullan, who had lunch Thursday with Lakers coach Phil Jackson, said she believes Jackson will stick to his word and retire at the end of the season. “The impression I get is that Phil is at the end of the road,” she said. “He didn’t say that, he won’t say anything about it. But that’s the impression I get. I think he’s come to the point where it’s time to step away again.”

MacMullan was talking to Jackson for a book she’s writing about Shaquille O’Neal. “He gave me some great insight on Shaquille, who he has a great affection for to this day, really loved being with him,” she said. “And you know, when it was Phil, Kobe and Shaq, nine times out of 10, Phil was siding with Shaq, not Kobe.”

Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Doc Rivers, Jackie MacMullan, Jerry Buss
Shaquille O’Neal to levitate over the Garden? 02.10.11 at 3:43 pm ET
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Since joining the Celtics as a free agent, he dressed as a drag queen on Halloween. He appeared as a statue in Harvard Square. Now, Shaquille O’Neal is planning his next big stunt in Boston.

Accompanying girlfriend Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander on WGBH’s Emily Rooney Show Thursay, he announced plans to perform a magic act on top of the TD Garden.

“Now, listen,” O’Neal told WGBH. “I asked Criss Angel to levitate me over the top of the TD Boston Garden, and he said yes so we just have to figure out a date.”

Angel is a magician who appears on an A&E television show entitled “Mindfreak.”

Alexander also revealed that the two have taken dancing classes together in their hometown of Sudbury. Unfortunately, there’s no video available of that. She and O’Neal also debated whether or not she’s ever defeated him 1-on-1 in tennis.

Suffering from an inflamed Achilles tendon, O’Neal hasn’t played since Feb. 1 against the Kings. He is expected to miss Thursday night’s game against the Lakers and could be out through the Feb. 18-21 NBA All-Star break.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Criss Angel, NBA, Nicole "Hoopz" Alexander
Banged up Celtics grind through knowing Lakers won’t have sympathy 02.09.11 at 2:42 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Doc Rivers knows the Lakers could care less about the banged up Celtics.

They don’t care that the Celtics had just 10 players for practice Wednesday. They don’t care that Paul Pierce was home sick instead of gearing up for the rematch with the Lakers Thursday night at TD Garden. They don’t care that 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal is nursing a sore right Achilles tendon that has forced him to miss the last three games.

They don’t care that Semih Erden is about to miss his second straight game with a right adductor strain. They don’t care that the Celtics don’t have a proven replacement for Marquis Daniels, who went down with a bruised spinal cord on Sunday afternoon.

“You come to play the game,” Rivers said. “We don’t worry about the body count. They’re not going to worry about the body count, I can guarantee you that. We’ll be read. We’ll be fine.”

All the Lakers care about is getting revenge for that 109-96 Celtics win on Jan. 30 at Staples Center.

The Celtics were reduced to 10 healthy players in practice on Wednesday.

On the bright side, Delonte West participated in his first full contact practice since his broken right wrist, suffered on Nov. 24 against New Jersey.

“We had 10,” Rivers said following Wednesday’s practice. “Paul’s is sick so he stayed at home. Semih is out, Shaq is out. Delonte practiced today but he won’t play [Thursday] or probably won’t play until after the break.”

Rivers said he does expect Pierce to play Thursday but not O’Neal or Erden. “I expect him to play,” Rivers said of Pierce. “He’s just not feeling good. We’ll see [Thursday]. I don’t expect Shaq, I don’t expect Semih. I don’t think [O’Neal] can go yet so we’re just going to wait until he gets healthy.”

Rivers said West was allowed to return but cautioned his players to try and use good judgment so that West’s right wrist wouldn’t be hit.

“We told [players] no reaching which is impossible with some of our guys but other than that, we got through it,” Rivers said.

Read More: Delonte West, Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Lakers, Marquis Daniels
Kendrick Perkins rejoins starting lineup with Shaquille O’Neal sidelined 02.04.11 at 7:53 pm ET
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It happened ahead of schedule, but Kendrick Perkins is once again a starting center. Shaquille O’Neal won’t play Friday night against the Mavericks, and he may not play Sunday against the Magic either as he deals with his latest ailment — an inflamed Achilles.

With Shaq out, Perkins will return to the starting lineup just five games into his comeback from knee surgery. The move was inevitable, but the timetable is a little quick for Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “I wanted to wait a little bit, honestly,” Rivers said. “It is what it is.”

Rivers is hoping to have Shaq back by Thursday when the Celtics play the Lakers (the Celtics also have a game Monday in Charlotte). Asked if Perkins was now the starter for good, Rivers wouldn’t commit one way or another. “I don’€™t know yet,” Rivers said. “We were probably going to start Perk after the All-Star break anyway, so we’€™ll see.”

Rivers has been pleased with Perkins’ production, but he still wants to monitor his minutes. It’s not the overall count that concerns the coach, but the extended stretches that worries him. Rivers would like to have Perkins on the floor for no more than seven minutes at a time. The depth behind Perkins includes Glen Davis and Semih Erden.

As for Shaq, this is the latest leg ailment to bother the veteran big man. There has been a hip injury, a calf strain and another one described as a “fibula head” strain. Also, as Rivers likes to point out, Shaq’s 38 years old. Rivers doesn’t think this latest injury will last long, but he also said he’s not sure how long Shaq will be out.

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal,
Delonte West shows TD Garden crowd he’s getting closer at 7:32 pm ET
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Delonte West keeps progressing in his attempt to return from a broken right wrist. One day after he went through a full shootaround and skeleton practice with the Celtics on Thursday at their practice facility, he warmed up on the TD Garden floor, showing everyone he can catch with his right hand and shoot with his left.

“He didn’t practice,” coach Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “He just did the shootaround and the shooting and that’s about it.”

But Rivers acknowledged it was significant that West could take part in catch-and-shooting drills without any protection whatsoever on his wrist, broken on Nov. 24 in home game vs. New Jersey.

“That’s nice. He did run through all of our skeleton stuff so obviously, the next step will be him going through a practice,” said Rivers before adding that there is still no specific timetable for West to return to game action. “I have no idea. No time soon I don’t think but I’m not sure.”

Meanwhile, with Shaquille O’Neal out Friday and likely Sunday vs. the Magic, Kendrick Perkins was thrust into the starting lineup on Friday against the Mavericks, a little sooner than the All-Star break timetable Rivers orginally expected.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Delonte West, Doc Rivers
Kendrick Perkins may start soon, but will he finish? 02.03.11 at 5:21 pm ET
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Shaquille O’Neal didn’t practice Thursday because his Achilles is inflamed, according to coach Doc Rivers. That makes Shaq questionable for Friday’s game against the Mavericks. “We may play him [Friday], we may not,” Rivers said. “We’ll see.”

When Shaq hasn’t been able to go Rivers has turned to rookie Semih Erden in order to keep Glen Davis in his familiar sixth man role off the bench. But now that Kendrick Perkins has five games under his belt, don’t be surprised if he gets the call.

“We will [make the switch] eventually,” Rivers said. “It’€™s not a big deal to us. I’€™m more concerned about who finishes the game.”

The coach has a point. Without Perkins the Celtics have been using Davis at center in the fourth quarter. According to 82games.com, Rivers has used the lineup with the four starters and Davis as much as he has the starting five with Shaq. The Davis-at-center lineup has been productive, and it makes sense due to the minutes limitations on Shaq, as well as his well-documented foul difficulty this season.

But Perkins’ return gives the Celtics options and that’s never a bad thing.

Perkins said he was a little surprised by how quickly he’s been able to get back in the flow. He had 10 points and nine rebounds against the Blazers and eight and 10 against the Kings. He also logged about 93 minutes on the four-game west coast trip and lasted 27 minutes against the Lakers.

“I thought I’€™d be off by so much,” Perkins said after practice Thursday. “I thought I’€™d have to get into a rhythm or whatever it may be. I’€™m just going to keep putting in the hard work. I’€™m still not where I want to be, but I am happy where I’€™m at.”

Asked what he felt he needed to improve, Perkins said, “Just my timing. My jumping. That’€™s about it. Timing and jumping. I feel like I have to get off the floor a little bit better.”

It’s only a matter of time before he rejoins the starting five. The real question will be answered at the end of the games.

Read More: Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal,
Kendrick Perkins on D&H: Ray Allen’s outburst was shocking but pleasing at 2:20 pm ET
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Celtics center Kendrick Perkins joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon and talked about his early return from knee surgery. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“I just put in a lot of hard work,” he explained. “Every day I was in here making sure I was getting my physical therapy in, making sure I was in the weight room every day. I just wanted to get back. I wanted to get back the smart way.”

Perkins acknowledged that he has a ways to go before he returns to form. “There’s a few times around the basket where I’m used to just catching it and going up and dunking,” he said. “My lift is not all the way there yet.”

Perkins said he’s pleased with the minutes he’s been getting since coming back. “I can’t complain,” he said. “I’m happy to be back out there. I’m playing a lot right now. So, I can’t complain one bit. I know one thing about Doc [Rivers], he’s going to look out for my best interests. But he also wants to win games. So, if I’m not producing, I should come out. But I feel like if I’m producing out there, then just leave me out there. I think he’s gradually starting to play me a little bit more and more. So it’s cool.”

The absence of Perkins in the first half of the season was made easier for the Celtics with the play of Shaquille O’Neal. “I think he’s brought a lot,” Perkins said. “Obviously, he’s given us depth. For a 38-year-old man, he’s playing well. He’s fit right on in with us. The chemistry is great. Obviously, you know everything about his basketball ‘€” he’s physical, he’s intimidating and all this. So, I think he brings a lot to the team. A lot.”

Perkins called Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo “divas” when they gave him a hard time about signing a poster for him. He was asked to elaborate on that comment. “Divas are like people who want things a certain way ‘€” their way ‘€” all the time. That’s what divas are,” he said. “They want their socks laid out a certain way or something of that nature. That’s why I called them divas. They want their own seat on the bench and stuff like that. They give a teammate and a friend that they’ve known for years trouble about signing a poster for me. That’s divas ‘€” just giving me a hard time, but they know they’re really going to do it, but they’ve got to give you a hard time first.”

Ray Allen ripped into the second unit at halftime of Tuesday’s victory over the Kings. Perkins said he was surprised but pleased with the veteran’s rare outburst. “I was very shocked,” Perkins said. “Because you know, Ray is a guy who very seldom shows emotions. I think he’s always one of the most poised guys on the team. So, he was very frustrated at halftime, and he had a reason to be. I actually was shocked, but I actually was like, ‘Yeah, Ray!’ I loved it. First I thought it was KG when I walked in. But it was Ray, so I was loving it.”

Perkins was injured in Game 6 of the 2010 finals and did not play in Game 7 as the Lakers rallied for the win. Asked if he thinks the Celtics would have won the title had he been healthy, he said: “I think so. I know one thing ‘€” we probably wouldn’t have gotten outrebounded by 20. So, I believe so.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo
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