SAN FRANCISCO -- Sometimes when you get what you want, it doesn't work out the way you thought it would. That was the lesson learned by the Celtics in a 100-77 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night.
The Celtics eagerly anticipated the return of Wally Szczerbiak (sprained right ankle) and Kendrick Perkins (plantar fasciitis, left foot). But with both players coming off the bench and easing their way back into the lineup, they provided little help. Boston tied its lowest point total of the season and dropped its fourth straight game.
Although Szczerbiak clearly didn't have much lift in his legs coming back from his second ankle sprain in less than a month, he didn't seem to struggle with his conditioning. The small forward played 28 minutes and finished with 9 points (2 for 8) and six rebounds. If his ankle responds well to the increased activity, he should return to the starting lineup tonight against the Golden State Warriors.
Coach Doc Rivers said he played Szczerbiak longer than he would have liked because Tony Allen was in foul trouble. But Rivers added that he kept Szczerbiak on the floor for 2 1/2 minutes during to the fourth quarter because he wanted to use the late stages of the blowout as a quasi-practice.
Coming off back-to-back games, the Celtics did not work out yesterday and will likely have an abbreviated practice tomorrow before back-to-back games Sunday in Seattle and Monday in Portland. The time off and light workout will help players returning from injury, such as Szczerbiak, Perkins, and Delonte West (bruised lower back), in some ways, but the team could use a good practice to reestablish confidence and chemistry.
"I laced up my shoes, put on my [ankle] braces, went out there, and adrenaline took over in warm-ups," said Szczerbiak, who missed three games. "I felt pretty good cutting and I said, we're not going to have any practice [to ease back] in the next couple of days, so I might as well go out there and give this team what I can. We've got [West] out and I was just trying to help us as much as I could. Obviously, my timing was a little off, but that's going to come, but the process is started and it's nice to get the first game behind me."
Perkins came back from a much longer layoff than Szczerbiak, missing three weeks and 10 games. Although he did not feel any pain in his foot, Perkins needs time to regain conditioning and timing. As a result, he finished scoreless (0 for 1) with one rebound in 11 minutes.
"I thought my wind was pretty good for the little time I played," he said. "It was just that my timing was off. Sometimes in the morning I feel a little pain, just an ache, but when I get to walking it goes away. I just need to get some extra conditioning and I'll be all right."
West plans on being back in the lineup tonight. For their fourth game without Paul Pierce (stress reaction, left foot), the Celtics will need as many key players as possible if they want to snap the losing streak that started the last time they played Golden State.