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Technically, he has problems

Perkins must deal with control issues

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / January 1, 2010

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PHOENIX - After his embarrassing ejection Dec. 18 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Rasheed Wallace heeded Doc Rivers’s words and has cooperated more with game officials. Wallace is the NBA’s perennial leader in technical fouls, and he was racking them up at an alarming pace in his first season as a Celtic. The coach and some veteran teammates suggested he soothe his anger.

Perhaps the same speech is being readied for Kendrick Perkins, who picked up his 10th technical of the season in the second quarter of Wednesday’s 116-98 loss to the Phoenix Suns, tying him with Wallace for the league lead.

The technical came at a particularly inopportune time, when the Celtics had finally sliced a double-digit deficit to 9. Steve Nash drained the free throw, then followed with an 8-footer after the Suns were awarded possession, and the Celtics lost all momentum.

Moreover, any player who reaches 16 technicals will be suspended by the league for one game. And one-game suspensions follow for every two technicals following the 16. So Perkins is putting himself - and his team - at risk for late-season suspensions if he continues his unruly behavior.

Perkins was scheduled to speak yesterday with NBA president of basketball operations Stu Jackson in an attempt to have his previous two technicals rescinded. Monday in Golden State, Perkins was whistled for using his elbow to clear space from rugged Ronny Turiaf.

He insists he is under control.

“I didn’t do nothing,’’ said Perkins. “It’s nothing I ain’t never been in before. Refs and techs, I have been going through this the last three seasons.’’

And that’s Rivers’s point. The question is whether Perkins has matured enough and worked enough to improve his relationships with officials. At first, it could be attributed to youth, according to Rivers, but now the coach is getting impatient. He didn’t hold back any words immediately following the Suns game.

“He’s just got to get better, and I told him that at halftime,’’ Rivers said. “We cut it to 9 points and then he gets a tech. I had no idea over what.

“He’s got to grow up. He’s got to get better. No doubt about it. They’re going to listen to Kevin [Garnett]. They’re going to listen to Ray [Allen] a little bit. They are going to listen to Paul [Pierce]. They have to listen to Rasheed. They’re not going to listen to anyone else. That’s enough.’’

Perkins freely admits that he plays with a scowl on his face. He is the Celtics’ enforcer; he protects his teammates, snaps at opponents, and relays his share of complaints to officials.

It starts in the first quarter and doesn’t end until the buzzer, and it appears officials are getting more irritated with Perkins’s grinding style, especially when they also have to hear from Wallace and occasionally Garnett.

According to Perkins, in Wednesday’s game, he said nothing to official Monty McCutchen, who told Perkins to stop complaining. McCutchen began yelling at him, according to Perkins, who responded, “Why are you talking to me like that?’’ Official Zach Zarba then called the technical on Perkins.

“They are allowed to scream at you like you are their child, huh?’’ Perkins said. “It ain’t nothing that I can’t stop, so it’s just something I’ve got to control and do a better job. Obviously these last two just wasn’t my fault, so I’ve got to do a better job of controlling myself.’’

Like Wallace, Perkins is amassing “reputation technicals.’’ It’s one thing if Allen gets upset, but when it’s Perkins, officials have a shorter fuse, especially when he looks so unpleasant during games. Perkins said he isn’t going to change his demeanor.

“If you don’t know me by now, from when I start the game to when I finish the game, there’s always a frown,’’ he said. “So it’s not like I am changing my emotions throughout the game.

“I am frowning up the whole four quarters. So it’s not like it’s at the ref. I play with a frown. I am trying to do a better job. Ain’t like I am cursing at them or saying something crazy to them.’’

Rivers said he doesn’t have much sympathy. Perkins is a key component on this team, but his emotions have been an issue for years. On Sunday against the Clippers, Perkins got into an on-court exchange with Garnett about his focus and frustration in guarding Los Angeles center Chris Kaman.

Perkins acknowledged afterward that a “few little things took me out of the game. I just feel like I have to do a better job of holding my composure.’’

Rivers agrees.

“He does have a reputation,’’ said the coach. “But do you know how you get a reputation? You earn it. It’s not like they just give you one.

“He may get reputation techs, but he made the bed; now he’s going to have to make it up. He’s going to have to do it all over again.

“The sad thing is, he’s a great kid, he really is. He gets so emotional about it, but he has to learn how to control it.’’

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

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