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CELTICS FYI

Team is delayed by flight problems

June 17, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Travel advantage, Lakers.

Travel between games is tough enough. Worse, it seems, if you're playing the Lakers.

The Boston Celtics on Monday became the third Lakers playoff opponent to experience major travel trouble. Mechanical issues with the team's charter flight caused a delay of several hours before the Celtics finally headed home.

In earlier playoff rounds, the Denver Nuggets' bus caught fire and the San Antonio Spurs were forced to sleep on a tarmac in New Orleans because of mechanical problems with their plane.

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Play it again

So, one delayed flight across the country, two days and three time zones later, it's Take 2 for the Celtics.

Their first attempt at hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy did not go so well, and the Celtics, still leading the series, 3-2, have some concerns trailing them into tonight's Game 6.

Sunday, for the first time in the NBA Finals against the Lakers, Boston was not the most physical team on the court.

Starting center Kendrick Perkins, out because of a strained left shoulder, was sorely missed and his status for the rest of the series remains questionable.

His injury left Kevin Garnett exposed on the defensive end with five fouls, contributing to a relatively quiet 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Afterward, no one was harsher on Garnett than Garnett.

"We were in foul trouble from the jump and it put us on our heels for the game," he said.

"It was trash. I played like garbage [Sunday]. I can do better and I will."

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Allen update

Guard Ray Allen hastily left Staples Center after the game ended to attend to a health issue with one of his children. He did not accompany the team on its flight here, but the Celtics expect him to play tonight, team spokesman Jeff Twiss said.

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To the point

Second-year point guard Rajon Rondo is playing like . . . a second-year point guard, passing on layups while deferring to veterans.

Concerned that Kobe Bryant is roaming off Rondo and is readily available to help too much on defense, Celtics Coach Doc Rivers played the young guard less than 15 minutes on Sunday.

"There's a lot of pressure on him," Rivers said. "I'm not going to put more on him. I'm just going to keep coaching him and trusting him. . . . He's gotten us here, but clearly, he's not playing as well as he would like to . . ."

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Toughening up

Beyond Perkins' shoulder, there are other nicks and bruises to monitor, including Paul Pierce's knee and Rondo's ankle.

"Guys are banged up, sure," veteran forward P.J. Brown said after Sunday's loss, ice bags wrapped around his right wrist, left knee and thumb. "It's something we've got to deal with to be NBA champions."

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Sweet home?

The Celtics are 12-1 during the playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden, but Garnett offered this rather confusing analogy about coming home:

"It's going to be like coming into the Amazon, into the jungle."

Said Rivers: "Well, we wanted to go back home, but we didn't want to play."

The Lakers can only hope they still feel that way.

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Times staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this report.

jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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