By Peter Stringer
The Celtics out-rebounded the Sixers 59-40 in Wednesday night's win. The difference was 19 rebounds.
Eight Celtics combined for 40 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins had 19 rebounds. Do the math. That makes Kendrick Perkins "the difference."
The Celtics got a glimpse of what the future may hold Wednesday night at the Garden, when second-year big man Kendrick Perkins set new standards for himself with a memorable 12-point, 19-rebound effort against the Philadelphia 76ers that is probably the best individual achievement of the Celtics' young season.
While foul trouble has been an issue for Perkins, even fouling out with 2:47 remaining had an upside: he received a well-earned standing ovation from the Garden crowd for a job well done and a victory hard earned.
That said, don't expect Perkins, who says he once grabbed 35 rebounds in a game at Clifton J. Ozen High School, to stay satisfied with one career night.
"I've got to carry on with other games; I've got to get this night in and night out," said Perkins after the Celtics 110-103 victory at the TD Banknorth Garden Wednesday night. "I knew I could do it, I just had to be confident out there."
Coach Doc Rivers was equally impressed by his new starting center's lunchpail effort, and Perkins did all of his work in less than 28 minutes on the floor. Still, it wasn't all at the defensive end. Perkins was a presence in the paint on the offensive end as well; eight of his 19 rebounds were offensive, and he even showed off a rarely-seen hookshot move in the post that accounted for most of his 12 points.
"Perk obviously was phenomenal. His energy, the rebounds, other than the shot he took that killed Jerry West, he had a perfect night," said Rivers. "He's a hell of a rebounder now. When you look at the minutes he played, it's even more impressive."
Perkins set the tone for the night by making his presence felt under the basket in the early goings, and after taking the ball off the glass with the rebound, he was looking up the floor to start the break. His teammates fed off the energy, and the Celtics sustained the effort even when Perk was on the bench.
"He came in and got every rebound and attacked every rebound he could," said Ricky Davis, who chipped in 26 points and five rebounds himself. "It makes everyone want to crash the boards and dive after loose balls and get real hyped to make defensive stops."
The Sixers agreed. Andre Iguodala complained after the game that they couldn't box him out. Philadelphia Coach Maurice Cheeks came away impressed as well.
"He was really the difference in rebounding the basketball," said Cheeks. "Nineteen rebounds. And every time he got an offensive rebound, they pretty much scored. So he was the difference in this basketball game."