$38 Million-Dollar Center Goes for Double Bagel in 22 Minutes

$38 Million-Dollar Center Goes for Double Bagel in 22 Minutes

January 20, 2005

Wouldn't you think Mark Blount might accidentally collide with a rebound if he spends 22 minutes on the floor? He is 7 feet tall. He does defend around the basket. But last night, against the Chicago Bulls, the center, who re-upped for $38 million over the summer, managed a double bagel (0 points, 0 rebounds) in the Celtics' 92-83 victory.

"A little shaky right now," Blount said afterward, when asked about his play. "I just have to get back to the basics."

   Blount has appeared indifferent and at times even invisible this season. He clearly is not happy with the way the Celtics have played defense - his self-professed forte - and there's good reason. But he also was on the floor for the final 8:26 last night, when Boston pulled away at the defensive end.

Asked if he could think of an occasion when Blount could not manage a rebound, coach Doc Rivers said, "I don't remember. But he got into quick foul trouble and was out of rhythm. Zero rebounds is the only number I look at."

What does Rivers have to do?

"Keep pushing him. Keep coaching him," Rivers said. "Obviously, we need it to be better and I think it will be. We have help."

That help comes in two forms: Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins. Jefferson (17 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) was a force last night and he replaced Blount when he picked up his second foul with 6:56 left in the first quarter. Perkins played 15 minutes and had 3 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots. Rivers said Perkins's physical play in the second quarter "saved the game for us."

Is it time to make a switch in the starting lineup? Rivers wouldn't say. But he did say, "We're not good enough to have an established starting five yet. Someday. Someday. That'll be really nice."

Long time, no see

The Celtics used all 12 players in the first half, which meant there was a verifiable Tom Gugliotta sighting. Poor Googs. This was only his third outing since Nov. 19; his previous two stints had amounted to eight minutes. He went six minutes last night, but Rivers said, "We're going to need him. That's a definite." Still, Googs could be the most likely candidate to hit the injured list again because Delonte West is close to being ready . . . Walter McCarty played two minutes. A week from tomorrow is Walter McCarty Bobblehead Night and the first 5,000 in attendance will get the dolls, unless Tommy Heinsohn has already swiped them . . . Paul Pierce and Bulls coach Scott Skiles each got a technical. Pierce was whacked in the third quarter for protesting a noncall - and he appeared to have a legitimate beef. (It was not the greatest night for referees Sean Corbin, Courtney Kirkland, and Rodney Mott.) When the Bulls were hit with two defensive three-second calls in the second quarter, at Rivers's urging, Skiles walked to halfcourt and bellowed, "Who's making the calls out there? You [the officials] or Doc?" Mott quickly made the next call, the T on Skiles . . . The Bulls' 17 wins already have matched the best coach Tim Floyd could offer in his awful three-plus years in Chicago . . . Two brutal FleetCenter debuts for Bulls rookies Andres Nocioni and Ben Gordon. Nocioni was scoreless (0 for 5) in 17 minutes, although he did have two blocked shots. Gordon was 1 for 7 and had 5 points. Second-year star Kirk Hinrich, who had 22 points against the Celtics on Jan. 8, was 4 for 17 from the field, 0 for 7 in the fourth . . . The Celtics blocked eight shots, two shy of their season high . . . Manute Bol was in attendance. Like the Bulls' Luol Deng, Bol hails from Sudan.

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