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Celtics Notebook

Daniels bruises spinal cord in collision

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 7, 2011

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Marquis Daniels dropped straight to the floor near the Celtics’ basket and Doc Rivers didn’t ask any questions.

“It was no doubt,’’ Rivers said. “Right when he went down, I was already on the floor. Gilbert Arenas or someone was standing near him and I just told him, ‘Don’t touch him.’ You could see it wasn’t good.’’

Daniels jammed his head into Arenas’s shoulder while driving to the basket early in the second quarter of the Celtics’ 91-80 win yesterday over the Magic. Players from both benches watched as Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte and team doctor Brian McKeon treated Daniels. Eventually, he was taken off on a stretcher, giving a thumbs-up sign to the TD Garden crowd before going to New England Baptist Hospital.

The Celtics learned that Daniels bruised his spinal cord and could be out up to two months. But his return was the last thing on Rivers’s mind.

“It’s just scary, obviously,’’ Rivers said. “It’s just tough.’’

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was with Daniels at the hospital, and by that point Daniels had regained full function in his arms and legs.

“He just wanted to know the score of the game,’’ Ainge said. “I think he was scared when he was out on the court because he couldn’t really move there for a short period of time so that scared him.’’

The scary part might have stemmed from the fact that it wasn’t the first time.

“This is the same type of neck injury that he had,’’ said McKeon. “It’s just a little bit worse. He’s got some spine issues in the past that have been addressed by other teams and so we’ll just have to see how it plays out in the next few days.’’

McKeon said CT scans, MRIs, and serial examinations will be performed. Initially, though, no one was sure how serious it was, including Arenas.

“He turned and faced and tried to sweep through and I think his head hit my chest,’’ Arenas said. “Then from there he just collapsed. Everyone thought he hit my knee.’’

Celtics players didn’t find out until halftime of the severity of Daniels’s injury.

Said captain Paul Pierce: “Honestly, I didn’t really know what was up. Obviously, when you see a guy lay down there, you get worried and you pray and hope that he’s all right. When we came back to the locker room at halftime, I asked how he was doing and they said he was moving and doing pretty good. Hopefully, you know, he can take some time off, hopefully he can get back on the court, but most importantly, we’re more worried about his health.’’

With Daniels out, the Celtics recalled Avery Bradley from Maine of the NBA Development League. He’s expected to join the club today in Charlotte.

Bradley played sparingly with the Celtics before being sent down. In nine games for Maine, Bradley averaged 17.1 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. He collected a league-record nine steals in a Jan. 30 win over Tulsa.

Others coveting Perkins? With free agency looming this summer, Kendrick Perkins’s name has come up recently as a player top teams like the Heat would target if the opportunity presented itself.

Perkins avoids thinking about his contract situation during the season.

“I don’t think you can play well worrying about those things,’’ he said. “You think about your future, you think about where you want to be and stuff like that — and obviously, I want to be here — but I’m just trying to finish this season healthy and just trying to finish it strong and whatever happens, happens.’’

Both O’Neals out The Celtics don’t expect to have Shaquille O’Neal back before the All-Star break as he continues to deal with an inflamed Achilles’ tendon.

O’Neal has missed 13 games this season with calf, knee, and foot issues.

This follows the news that Jermaine O’Neal will miss 6-8 weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Rivers said he expects Jermaine O’Neal to be healthy by the playoffs.

“He’ll get right, we know that,’’ Rivers said. “We just want him to be right, and have the strength to play a number of games in a row where he can help, instead of just four or five games and then out.’’

Gary Washburn of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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