Celtics notebook: Perkins showing off defensive skills
OK, so we all know that Kendrick Perkins is offensively challenged, but the Celtics center has been working assiduously on his defense.
Coach Doc Rivers thought that defense was showcased in the win over Los Angeles Sunday, when Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who averages 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, was limited to eight points, two rebounds and just one bock. Perkins took him right out of his game.
Rivers called it Perkins' "best of the year. I thought he guarded Bynum as well as you can guard him and I thought not only did he just guard Bynum, he kept getting back to help shrink the floor so we could show Kobe five (defenders). That was our mantra going into the game-show five defenders every time he touched the ball. That's tough to do and I thought it was his best game."
Perkins continued working on his defense Wednesday against Houston, but both he and backup Scot Pollard fouled out against giant Yao Ming. Still, they limited Yao to six first-half points.
"Offensively, he is what he is," Rivers said, "and defensively when he plays with that type of energy and that type of focus, Perk is really good for your basketball team.
"He can improve and we're working on it. That's been a process since we've been here. He's improved a little on it. Clearly we'd like him to get it up and over his head quicker. It's not getting it up, he's bringing it back down. He's a gatherer. He has to gather himself before he goes back up. We would like him to be able to catch and go back up in one motion, and that's been very difficult."
Garnett as an All-Star
Kevin Garnett continues to lead all All-Star candidates with 1,527,963 votes, with Cleveland's LeBron James coming in second with 1,294,019 votes.
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant is third in voting with 1,234,111 votes in the West.
Garnett is joined by Celtics teammates Ray Allen and Paul Pierce as top-tier vote-getters. Allen has received 617,123 votes, good for third place amongst guards behind Miami's Dwayne Wade and New Jersey's Jason Kidd. Pierce placed fourth amongst Eastern forwards, right behind Toronto's Chris Bosh, with 352,243 votes.
The Celtics host the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night, hoping to win an eighth straight game while improving their home record to 16-1 prior to heading to Detroit Saturday.
No one will be more intent on watching this game than Memphis' President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace, who served seven seasons as Celtics GM. He was named to his current post in June.
The Grizzlies are coming off a Wednesday win at Indiana, where they'd never won in 11 tries. The 9-22 Grizzlies are averaging virtually the same points as the Celtics, 100.2, but giving up 104.5-17.5 more than the 27-3 Celtics.
Memphis is 4-11 away from home.
In the spotlight
First-year coach Marc Iavaroni is on something of a hot seat, presiding over a group that features a couple of stars in Paul Gasol and Rudy Gay, but his team has yet to gel.
The win at Indiana not only broke an 11-game losing streak there but an overall five-game losing streak.
"They showed a grit and desire that's been missing," Iavaroni said, "and they knew it. ... We were just so hungry for a win."
One problem Iavaroni has been dealing with is leaning on a rookie point guard, Mike Conley, who was Greg Oden's teammate at Ohio State. Conley is just getting over a shoulder injury that forced him out of 20 games. He returned Saturday in a loss to San Antonio, but scored seven points with six assists at Indiana-his first start.
"I felt real aggressive," Conley said. "I thought I ran the team well. I thought we played together from the beginning of the game."
The Patriot Ledger