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Celtics Notebook

Rondo is helped off, but insists he's fine

Rajon Rondo appears to be in pain as he walks to the bench late in the game. Rajon Rondo appears to be in pain as he walks to the bench late in the game. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Frank Dell'Apa
Globe Staff / April 24, 2009
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CHICAGO - Rajon Rondo has not slowed down since sustaining a sprained ankle late in the first half of Game 2 of the Celtics' first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. But questions were raised about Rondo's health as he was carried off the court by teammate Bill Walker after the Celtics' 107-86 win in Game 3 last night.

"I was limping and Billy didn't want to see me limp, so he just carried me," Rondo said. "I didn't slip or nothing. I'm fine. Ankles are fine."

Rondo, who had 20 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals, removed his shoes late in the game.

"Maybe the tape was too tight," Rondo said. "It's just the tape job."

Talking a good game
Coach Doc Rivers is leaving the door open for Kevin Garnett's return, but the star forward appeared a long way from being able to play as he joined teammates for yesterday morning's shootaround.

"There's a chance, he has a chance to play [last] night - but he's not," Rivers said before Game 3. "We just hope that he gets better and, if it happens, it would be great, obviously. Like I said before, I don't think it's going to happen."

Garnett leaned on a handrail descending a flight of stairs at the Moody Bible Institute gym, then conversed with center Kendrick Perkins, and went through a slow-motion perimeter shooting circuit.

"I decided to call him Coach Kevin - after earlier saying I wouldn't," Rivers said. "He's doing it anyway, so. He's been great, his communication with our bigs during practices, during film work. He's vocal, anyway. So he's been very, very good in that aspect, and they listen."

Garnett was on the bench for last night's game.

"We may have to get him a seat belt," Rivers said. "One of the refs the other game actually said, 'Hey, relax.' And I told the ref, this is the playoffs, you should be excited, and should want the players to be excited. We shouldn't legislate energy and excitement."

Rivers compared Garnett's spontaneity to Bulls center Joakim Noah's.

"Noah does it, I loved it when he was in Florida and I love it now," Rivers said. "I love watching him, the kid plays hard. The fans in Boston get on him because they don't like the way it looks and I'm sure the fans in Chicago get on Kevin. But it's pure, it's not anything orchestrated."

Perkins said he has been inspired by Garnett and Leon Powe, who sustained a left knee injury that will require surgery.

"That's the fight Kevin has in him," Perkins said. "Just him being on the bench, it feels like he can help us in so many ways, if he could [play]. I'll go out there and fight for him and Leon every day, because I know they want to be out there.

"When I'm talking to Kevin it's more about off-the-court stuff than on-the-court stuff."

Perkins shot 14 of 20 from the field in Games 1 and 2, and 2 for 5 last night.

"I just have to make sure I take advantage of it, set my confidence up a little bit," he said. "I just keeping working on polishing my post game. I know they play my jump hook a lot so I'm trying to get my turnaround jumper down, a couple up-fakes here and there, knock down one or two 15-footers."

In full bloom
Guard Derrick Rose was named NBA Rookie of the Year Wednesday, the Bulls marking the honor by spreading rose petals around the court before last night's game.

"I wonder who didn't vote for him," Rivers said of Rose, who received 111 of 116 first-place votes. "If that wasn't a guarantee for unanimous, if that wasn't the layup of the year . . . He's everything you want in a player and more, off the court, too. I thought he was put in a really tough situation here, veterans with contract situations and veterans who had done it their way. They were told to give the ball to a rookie and he's going to run the team. Very few could pull that off."

Rose finished with 9 points and seven turnovers in Game 3.

Heady play
Forward Brian Scalabrine, returning to action for the first time in two months, donned a headband that was sewn with protective padding used for vests and thigh pads by the Celtic training staff. Scalabrine sustained a concussion in a Feb. 23 game at Denver.

"It felt good to be out there in that type of environment," said Scalabrine, who converted his only shot, a 3-pointer, in the third quarter, and played six minutes. "The first half, I was probably a little more jumpy. But in the second half I got in a rhythm up and down the court a couple more times. I felt really good."

Asked if he was hit during the game, Scalabrine replied, "Yeah, by Stephon [ Marbury] on the bench. He was all jacked up and said, 'Yeah,' and elbowed me right in the head. Besides that, I was [fine]. It was a good elbow. It felt pretty good. I'm pretty happy about that."

Highs and lows
The Celtics' all-time Game 1 playoff record before this season was 41-6. Their first-game losses resulted in: elimination in four games by Orlando (1995); elimination in three games by Detroit (1989); victories in a three-of-five series against Cincinnati (1966) and a four-of-seven against the Royals (1963); and elimination in a two-game series against New York (1951) and a two-of-three against the Chicago Stags (1948).

"I think we've got to do our jobs, completely," Rivers said before last night's game. "We've talked about that for two years - do our jobs completely. We get distracted [by] scoring sometimes and we fall into playing [a run-and-gun style]. The Bulls have a ton of offensive weapons, so they can play that way and get away with that. We can't. We have to be a defensive team to be a great team and I think when we get in these high-scoring games it's dangerous, and we've been there for two games."

Space program
Paul Pierce scored 41 points on 40 field goal attempts in Games 1 and 2. "He's had space," Rivers said. "I thought he was looking for traps in that second game. We showed him on film all the times he had it and he had time and space. Paul will figure it out - he doesn't need me or any of the coaches in his head. He's a great scorer and scorers figure it out." Pierce finished with 24 points in Game 3, hitting 9 of 15 shots.

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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