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Perkins says sloppy practice isn’t helping

After three losses in five games, Kendrick Perkins - and Doc Rivers - say the Celtics must work harder on consistency. After three losses in five games, Kendrick Perkins - and Doc Rivers - say the Celtics must work harder on consistency. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff
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By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / November 18, 2009

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WALTHAM - Kendrick Perkins freely admits that the Celtics have not cured the ills caused by three losses in five games with just two practices. What’s more, the burly center and team conscience believes the Celtics are lacking the focus and concentration necessary for a dominant season.

The Celtics enter tonight’s game against Golden State needing a win for their psyche more than anything else. Even a victory over a team in upheaval will be devoured and used for confidence. Back-to-back losses to Atlanta and Indiana have dampened the team’s momentum and outlook.

There was once talk, although faint, of reaching 72 wins. Now the goal is to dominate opponents defensively, something the Celtics used to do regularly. The Celtics spent the past two days trying to regain their sharpness, but Perkins, along with coach Doc Rivers, walked away unimpressed.

“I think our energy’s been high, [but] these past few practices haven’t been good, I don’t think,’’ Perkins said after yesterday’s workout. “They haven’t been our best practices. We’ve been turning over the ball, just being sloppy the last two practices.

“I thought as far as Doc and the coaching staff, they had the right game plan for practice. As a team, we haven’t had the perfect execution for practice. We just gotta get back on the right track.’’

Rivers also noticed the spotty practices, despite the presence of Paul Pierce yesterday.

“Average,’’ he said, when asked to assess the practices. “I thought today’s practice was up and down. To me, it’s the way we played so far this year. We’ve been a spurt team. We’re not ready yet to be a 48-minute basketball team. That’s just not what we’ve done yet. We’re working on it.’’

Perkins said following Saturday’s loss that the Celtics were taking lesser teams lightly, and that was evident against the upstart Pacers, who were missing three contributing players to injury.

The Celtics are just ninth in the NBA in field goal percentage allowed, subpar for a team consistently in the top five. Three of the past five opponents have scored at least 97 points.

“We’ll get it together,’’ Perkins said. “I just think each guy got to look at himself in the mirror and just play their roles, do their jobs, starting with me. I think I have to do a better job of setting picks, getting guys open, being better on the offensive end than what I am.’’

The Celtics appear to be consumed with the 3-point shot, and that hasn’t worked. They are 19 for 74 from behind the arc (26 percent) in the past five games. They pointedly tried to pound the ball in the paint Saturday against Indiana, and it resulted in a 9-point halftime lead.

Once the Pacers rallied and took the lead, the Celtics turned into a perimeter-shooting team again and missed 9 of 12 3-pointers. While the Celtics attempted 19.1 3-pointers per game during their championship season two years ago (18.2 this season), their defense was considerably more consistent then.

“I don’t think we’re attacking,’’ Perkins said. “I think we need to be more aggressive. I don’t want us to turn into a 3-point-shooting team. Obviously we got shooters, but we have to be a more physical team, rebounding, driving, I just think we’ve go to be more physical.’’

Being physical has gotten Perkins into trouble in his career. And he already has four technical fouls. On Friday, he was whistled for a technical for “swiping’’ at an Atlanta player following a non-foul call, and Saturday official Joey Crawford added another following a block call against Danny Granger.

Perkins agreed with neither, although the NBA is emphasizing “swiping’’ calls after the Rafer Alston incident with Eddie House during last June’s Eastern Conference semi-finals.

“I am probably [going to] call in and try to get it overturned,’’ Perkins said. “This year I was trying to go actually without getting techs but they are just finding me.

“Shoot, I’m trying to be cool and you are still getting them. But I don’t think I deserved the last two that I got. So I am going to have the league look them over.’’

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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