Notebook: Perkins Injures Shoulder in Practice

By Peter Stringer
February 8, 2006

Already undermanned after Al Jefferson's ankle injury last weekend against the Clippers, the Celtics were dealt another tough blow when Kendrick Perkins injured his shoulder at the end of practice Wednesday.

Kendrick Perkins
If Kendrick Perkins has to miss time, the Celtics will be left pretty thin up in the front court.

The question on everyone's mind: How bad is the injury?

"We don't know. His shoulder may have gone out, we don't know how bad. He's going to go do an x-ray and we'll find out," said Rivers. "Obviously that wouldn't be good news, but we'll wait and see."

Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge didn't offer many more details about the severity of Perkins' injury on his weekly WEEI appearance Wednesday afternoon.

"It's not that bad," said Ainge. "We're hoping to get him back after the All-Star Break."

Perkins appeared to injure the shoulder in a collision with Brian Scalabrine just at the end of practice, when TV cameras are allowed in to shoot B-roll footage for their broadcasts.

"My guess is that he'll be back and play Friday but I don't know. You never know how bad those things are. I think it came out [of socket]," said Rivers.

As for Jefferson, Rivers said he doesn't know a timetable on his possible return because he had yet to ask for one. Jefferson watched practice from the sidelines with his ankle heavily wrapped.

"When I saw him on crutches earlier I just assumed the time table isn't good," quipped Rivers.

Pierce Keeps Morale High Despite Skid

Their record is a disappointing 1-6 since the blockbuster trade, but the Celtics remain upbeat. So where does that spirit come from?

Paul Pierce
Despite a tough season, Paul Pierce has managed to keep his chin -- and those of his teammates -- held up high.

"The morale always comes from the coach and the best player, I've always said that," said Rivers. "The fact that Paul's been so upbeat, especially since the trade, for whatever reason, he's been great. He was in the locker room after the Miami game, 'keep fighting, guys, keep pumping away, it's going to work, we're not playing ourselves out of it."

Much was made over the off-season of Pierce having to become more of a leader for the Celtics, and he's really stepped up to the plate this year. Pierce has managed to keep the team loose despite some tough stretches of losing and a roster shakeup, no small feat in today's NBA.

He's having his best season, statistics-wise, on the court this year. Pierce is shooting a career-high 47.9% from the field, leading all wing players in rebounds per game, and is the only player in the NBA leading his team in points, rebounds and assists per game. It's not exactly a Carl Yastrzemski Triple Crown, but it's impressive nonetheless. Still, perhaps most importantly in a tough season, Pierce is having his best year in the locker room as well.

"He really is, and I don't think he gets enough credit for it," said Rivers. "He's doing it naturally. When you're a forced leader it's tough to do. Even today in practice, the second unit was really struggling, and before I said something, Paul said something."

As for Pierce, he's just trying to keep his teammates focused on the job at hand.

"We've just got to keep our heads up; we can't get down or lose our confidence. You're going to have your struggles. We had a good day of practice today and we feel like we can turn it around at any second."

Pierce and his mates practiced for over two hours Wednesday. He seemed to be pleased with what he saw on the court, and says he isn't disheartened by a roster that's been somewhat depleted by the trade and a recent rash of injuries.

"That's what happens in the season. You've got to anticipate injuries. Very rarely do you have a team where everybody stays healthy," said Pierce. "When one guy goes down, other guys have to be ready to step up."


- Even with a six-game losing streak, the Celtics are still very much in the thick of the playoff hunt, and a stringing a few victories together is all it would take to be in the top eight in the Eastern Conference. "You look at our record; our road record is what's killing us above anything else. At 4-20 on the road, you can't be a good basketball team," said Rivers.

- The injury to Perkins probably means more time for Michael Olowokandi, Brian Scalabrine and Ryan Gomes in the short term. Given that the injury happened at the end of practice, the C's didn't have a chance to work on any different rotations with their big men for Friday night if Perkins can't go. Should Perkins has to miss significant time, with the healthy body count continuing to fall, the Celtics may be forced to make a personnel move this week.

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