Notes: Szczerbiak Injures Knee in First Quarter in Utah

By Peter Stringer
Celtics.com
February 22, 2006

Wally Szczerbiak has struggled with his left knee tightening up on him over the last few weeks and hoped that some rest over the All-Star Break would have him ready to go for the four-game West Coast road trip. But a first quarter collision with Milt Palacio at the 8:38 mark ended Szczerbiak's night in Utah Tuesday. Szczerbiak was backpeddling on defense trying to stop Palacio's layup, and the two players appeared to knock knees under the basket.

Wally Szczerbiak
Raef LaFrentz and Delonte West check on Wally Szczerbiak after he went down with a left knee injury early in the first quarter in Utah Tuesday night.

Szczerbiak initially stayed on his feet but then went to the floor in obvious pain, clutching the knee, which was already wrapped in a black brace. He was carried off the floor at the Delta Center by Michael Olowokandi and Dwayne Jones.

After picking up Szczerbiak, his teammates picked up their play and come away with their most impressive road win of the season, a 103-83 trouncing of the Jazz in which they shot 92% from the field in the third quarter and overcame a 14-point deficit to hang a 20-point loss on the home team.

Still, the Celtics are already shorthanded with Al Jefferson (ankle) and Kendrick Perkins (shoulder) still sidelined indefinitely. While Rivers is offering no official timetable on either's prospects for a return, he has sepculated in his pregame interview with Mike Gorman that Jefferson will likely be back sooner than would Perkins, but he wasn't making any promises about either playing in any games on the road trip.

As for Szczerbiak's knee, Rivers is just hoping that he can play through it.

"I was hoping it was a knee bruise then I saw him twist his knee and it was worse than it looked," said Doc Rivers in his postgame remarks. "They think it's a deep knee bruise. He could possibly play tomorrow, but I don't know, I hope."

X-rays were reportedly negative, and Szczerbiak was spotted by FSN's TV cameras walking around the locker room area under his own power after the first quarter during the broadcast, but there's no official indication at this time form the team as to the severity of Szczerbiak's injury. He is considered questionable to play in Phoenix tonight.

Szczerbiak's injury meant more playing time for Tony Allen, a guy who knows something about knee issues, and Brian Scalabrine, who filled in at small forward as Rivers had to shuffle his lineups again to compensate for being shorthanded. Gerald Green even made a cameo before garbage time and could be pressed into action if Szczerbiak can't go tonight in Phoenix.

Szczerbiak told The Boston Globe that despite his initial reaction on the floor after the collision, there's no structural damage to the knee.

"There's no tears, no sprains or anything like that, just a real bad hard hit," said Szczerbiak. "I felt a little cracking and clunking in the back, but that's pretty much what I've been dealing with."

Pierce Picking Up Play

Paul Pierce has taken it upon himself to become more aggressive, and the results have certainly showed up in the box score. Pierce has scored 30 points or more in seven of the Celtics' eight games this month, including his 50 point game against the Cavs last Wednesday. He's averaging 34 PPG in the month, it would be even more impressive if not for an off night (18 points) against the Clippers on February 3, in which he went just 5-15 from the field. Pierce is also shooting a remarkable 48.6% for the month.

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