The Beast is Becoming a Force


The Beast is Becoming a Force

Paul Pierce was in the midst of a quiet discussion about Kendrick Perkins and his recent statistical surge. In the process of going over the numbers, Pierce stopped and offered a proclamation.

``If he plays like that, we won't lose. I promise you that,'' Pierce said.

Certainly there are others who have been played major roles in the Celtics' current nine-game winning streak, but when Pierce says, ``like that,'' he's talking about some fairly impressive stuff. Over his last six games, Perkins is averaging 11.5 points (on 68.3 percent shooting), 12.2 rebounds and 3.83 blocked shots. He's had double-figure boards in each of his last five games after hitting that mark just twice prior this season.

Since returning from his left shoulder strain, Perk has hit 71.7 percent from the floor, and as a measure of his proficiency at the other end, his block average of late is slightly above what league leader Marcus Camby is averaging for the season.

``You're starting to see what Perk can mean to this team,'' said Pierce. ``He's starting to see it, too.''

And while Perkins is helped immensely by playing alongside Kevin Garnett, KG has consistently dished praise back in the other direction.

``I've been telling you all year about how good he is and how hard he works,'' Garnett said.

Coming back from the shoulder problem, Perkins has clearly buckled down.

``It seems like I've got a new energy or something,'' he said. ``I don't know what it is. It seems like a new start for some reason. I've just been attacking the glass. I've been going hard. It's getting close to the playoffs and my individual goal is to go and get at least 10 boards a night. As long as I keep doing that, we'll be all right.''

C's coach Doc Rivers has said repeatedly that Perkins is fine when he stays within his role, but that's easier now as his confidence has grown.

``He's just doing his job,'' said Rivers. ``I know that sounds simple, but he is. He's keeping his game simple. I just think he's got great focus right now. We need him to keep that.''

Rivers then brought up Garnett, adding, ``He missed a bunch of games (nine), and the bigs realized it's tough with him not here. I think when you have all three of those guys (Pierce and Ray Allen, as well) on the floor the other guys are better. KG clearly makes everyone better. The other guys are going to get all the attention, on the glass, on everything.

``And if you do your job, you can have a field day playing with these guys.''

High praise

Pierce has shot 50 percent or better in each of his last five games, checking in at a warm 15-for-30 on treys. Over the last four games, he has 17 assists and just four turnovers.

Rivers said he got a phone call from a very good coach in our league, ``one of the best, and all he talked about was Paul Pierce and how he's changed his game in front of everybody's eyes, doing everything, doing all the little things, being a passer, being a great teammate. Just everything. That, for me to hear from somebody else, was really special. That was nice. He's been great.''

You don't have to convince Garnett.

``I've got Paul for MVP this year,'' he said. ``You know, he does a lot of things, little small things, that people don't see. There's only three people I really like to watch on offense and he's one of them. He makes scoring look easy. He has this uncanny confidence about himself that I love. It's not cockiness. It's self-assurance and it's beautiful. I told you he's one of the reasons why I came here.''

Rondo rolls on

Rajon Rondo has scored just three and six points in the last two games, but that hasn't disturbed him. Rondo had 17 assists and two turnovers in the trip to Memphis and Philadelphia. . . .

The Celtics took yesterday off from practice and will hold a shootaround this morning before facing Seattle tonight. It's likely they will work out tomorrow. Sam Cassell has thus had very little time to study with his new teammates. It was suggested this is rather like getting a degree through correspondence classes. . . .

The first 5,000 fans at tonight's game will get Garnett bobblehead dolls.

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