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Celtics notebook

Perkins injures right knee; status unknown

By Julian Benbow and Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / June 16, 2010

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LOS ANGELES — Kendrick Perkins left the visiting locker room with a noticeable limp last night. His night ended early. His season might end one game early as well.

At the 5:30 mark of the first quarter, Perkins went up for a rebound and came down between Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant. He landed with his right knee bent awkwardly and had to be carried off the floor. He did not return to the game.

“They’re going to reevaluate me in the morning,’’ Perkins said as he left Staples Center, unable to do anything about the Celtics’ 89-67 Game 6 loss to the Lakers. “I’ve just got to go from there.’’

Asked if he thought he would play in tomorrow’s deciding Game 7, he said, “I hope so, just keep treating it with ice, hope it doesn’t swell up too much, and just go from there.’’

But the feeling in the locker room wasn’t nearly as optimistic.

“I’m pretty sure he’ll be cheering us on in Game 7,’’ Tony Allen said. “It’s just unfortunate. I mean, he didn’t come back, so evidently he’s probably not going to be playing Game 7.’’

When Perkins went down, the Celtics were trailing by 6 points. By the end of the quarter they were down 12, and midway through the second they found themselves down 20. The effect of his absence was obvious.

“I think we were a little bit focused on if Perk was going to come back instead of just continuing to play,’’ said Rajon Rondo. “As soon as halftime came, you know, we all just ran to the locker room and to the training room to see how he was feeling and if he was OK. Our energy went down a little bit, but for the most part it’s not an excuse. We just came out and didn’t have it.’’

Without Perkins, their best rebounder and essentially their muscle in the paint, the Celtics lost the rebounding battle, 52-39.

“Honestly, tonight it wouldn’t have mattered the way things were going, but it would have been nice to have him on the floor,’’ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “He’s one of our guys that I think gives us great spirit, gives us a lot of toughness and gives us size. You know, I hope he can play. It would be tough if he can’t. Somebody else is just going to have to step forward.’’

Rivers said if Perkins can’t play, his replacement will either be Rasheed Wallace, who missed all seven of his shots last night, or Glen Davis, who has regressed (no points, nine rebounds) after a huge Game 4.

“We’ve got to get better play out of Baby, and I told him that after the game,’’ Rivers said. “He has to come with that same spirit he came in with in the famous Shrek and Donkey game.’’

Elbow room
Rondo took an elbow from Ron Artest in the third quarter that left him with stitches across his chin.

“He elbowed me in my chin,’’ Rondo said. “I don’t think it was intentional but it was definitely a foul, one of the fouls that wasn’t called.’’

No rest for weary
Both Rivers and Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the travel took a toll on their teams, especially on just a single day’s rest. “You saw the effects on both teams,’’ said Jackson. I thought we had a little more energy than they did. But both these teams ran out of gas in the second half, and we struggled through that ball game. Rivers said, “I thought you could see it in the play,’’ Rivers said. “I thought it was ragged. I think the two extra days - tomorrow and then the game - everybody will have their legs back and be OK. At least for the Game 7, I think you’re going to get both teams’ best. Really that’s what the fans want.’’ . . . The Celtics have seen their share of Game 7s. “Too many,’’ Rivers said. This will be their fifth in the past three postseasons. Last night’s loss dropped them to 1-8 in road closeout games, but their record in Game 7s is 3-1 . . . Garnett is generally considered the Celtics’ emotional leader, but even Rivers was surprised after Game 5 when Garnett was the one calming teammates down. “That’s funny that he says that,’’ Garnett said. “I try get in guys’ faces and be one-on-one versus say it in group, or if I’ve got to say it in a group, so be it. Sometimes I might have all my emotions together, but in situations where I can be a decent teammate, if not a better teammate and try to help a guy out, I do that. I try to be very up-front and truthful with them, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.’’ . . . The draft is eight days away, but Rivers was so wrapped up in the series he hardly knew. “It’s scary to know that the draft is this close,’’ he said. “I hadn’t thought about that at all. I don’t even know what pick we have.’’ The Celtics have the 19th pick.

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