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Celtics take sizable hit in middle with Kendrick Perkins' injury

Perkins injures right knee in first quarter and Coach Doc Rivers isn't sure he'll play in Game 7.

June 15, 2010|By Baxter Holmes

Kendrick Perkins' stare could have set the television afire. About an hour before Game 6 Tuesday, he watched it from just a few feet away in the Celtics' locker room, his 6-foot-10 frame leaning forward with his head resting in his hands as his elbows propped them up.

Players mulled around, reciting lyrics to music that blared into their ears, but he sat still, inspecting footage from the previous game. His focus seemed heightened, more so than in any game this series, knowing that a possible NBA title might be just 48 minutes away.

Sadly for Perkins, his night wouldn't last nearly that long. He suffered a right-knee injury with 5 minutes 30 seconds left in the first quarter of the Celtics' 89-67 loss and did not return.

Perkins' condition will be re-evaluated Wednesday. Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said of Perkins' chances to play in Game 7: "It doesn't look great, but I don't know."

The injury occurred when Perkins went up for an offensive rebound after a Rajon Rondo jumper. Perkins leaped between Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant and landed awkwardly. He pointed at his knee. After a few minutes on the floor, his teammates helped him to the locker room.

Rasheed Wallace replaced Perkins, but with Perkins out, the Celtics missed their physical presence whose usual role is to bang Pau Gasol around. Case in point: By the end of the first quarter, Gasol had more rebounds (six) than all of the Celtics combined (five).

For the game, the Celtics were out-rebounded, 52-39.

"He's a guy that cleans the paint up, let's say, and not having him there made the Lakers awful long," Rivers said.

That Perkins left the game because of an injury seemed a cruel twist. The center had entered this series with six technical fouls in the postseason, needing only one more to earn a one-game suspension.

Failing to lighten the sting of Perkins' absence, Wallace, who also has six technical fouls, played 17 minutes and missed all seven of his shots while grabbing just three rebounds. Seldom-used big man Shelden Williams saw his most minutes (14) of the Finals and finished with no points and three rebounds.

Perkins, who recorded one rebound and missed the only shot he took, had been averaging 6.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the playoffs coming into Tuesday's game, and in the Finals, he had been averaging 7.0 and 6.8.

"He's our beef down there, he's our instigator," Celtics forward Glen Davis said. "He does a lot of things for us and for him to go down, it's tough for us."

If he is not able to play in Game 7, the Celtics' chances of winning take a serious hit.

"He's one of our guys that I think gives us great spirit, gives us a lot of toughness and size," Rivers said. "You know, I hope he can play. It would be tough if he can't."

Said forward Kevin Garnett: "We're going to have to adjust to it."

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

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