AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - When it comes to scoring, the Celtics have their share of players they can turn to for a string of baskets. Kendrick Perkins isn't the first guy who comes to mind, but the forward proved he could find the basket last night.
Perkins chipped in 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting in a 94-80 victory over the Pistons in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. Perkins, who scored a career-high 14 playoff points in Game 6 against Atlanta, considered it one of his most productive games in the playoffs. He finished with 10 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 blocked shot.
"I feel like it was one of my better games just because I was active on the offensive end," said Perkins, who has averaged 6.1 points per game in the postseason. "As far as defensively, I think I've been doing a good job this whole series, but I've still got room that I can improve."
Perkins's contributions were a nice supplement for a Celtics offense that is looking for a little help. Perkins helped the Celtics outscore the Pistons in the paint, 34-24. The Celtics shot 46.4 percent from the field.
Kevin Garnett led the charge inside, picking up a team-high 22 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists. Garnett and Perkins were among the five starters who all scored in double digits. James Posey added 12 points off the bench.
Perkins made his presence known in the opening minutes.
When Antonio McDyess's shot clanged off the rim, Perkins was there for the rebound.
When a lane opened, Garnett led Perkins to the basket for his first of two dunks in the first quarter. The Celtics seemed to be drawn to the goal as they slammed down four dunks in the opening period.
Perkins's performance helped the Celtics celebrate their first road win of the playoffs, ending the six-game losing streak away from TD Banknorth Garden.
"Guys weren't thinking we were 0-and-whatever on the road," Rajon Rondo said. "We just came out tonight and had greater focus. From jump ball we came out with great intensity."
During the regular season, Perkins's best performance against the Pistons came in March, when he posted 10 points and a career-high 20 rebounds in the 90-78 win.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he encouraged Perkins and Rondo (12 points) to remain active and aggressive when approaching the basket. If Perkins followed the plan, Rivers said he believed shots would open for Allen, Pierce, and Garnett.
"I was really happy for both of those guys," Rivers said. "Perk was terrific tonight with that energy, dunking in, looking for the ball, and so was Rajon."
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org