Kendrick Perkins Returns, Celtics Record Blowout Win Over Visiting Cavaliers

Kendrick Perkins Returns, Celtics Record Blowout Win Over Visiting CavaliersFinal: Celtics 112, Cavs 95. That's that — the Celtics have wrapped up a cakewalk of a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, their sixth win in seven games. They improve to 34-10 this season.

Kendrick Perkins turns in a solid stat line in his return, giving the Celtics seven points, six rebounds and three assists. Paul Pierce leads the team with 24 points, but none after halftime. Besides Pierce, six other C's finish in double figures.

Christian Eyenga headlines seven Cavs in double figures. He has 15.

The C's will travel tomorrow to Portland, where they begin a four-game West road trip the following night.

Fourth quarter, 2:56, Celtics 108-91: Gino is finally making his entrance, as the C's are up 17 with three minutes to play. They can go ahead and celebrate this one.

One person not around to partake in the victory dance: Paul Pierce. The captain has retreated to the locker room for the final minutes. He's had trouble walking for most of this half — he might have rolled an ankle.

Plenty more updates to come, no doubt.

On the other hand, Rajon Rondo isn't going anywhere. He's played 43 minutes and counting tonight.

Fourth quarter, 5:56, Celtics 104-84: The C's are now well over the century mark, and they're not looking back. Rondo continues to quarterback the C's offense like a champion. He's got 11 points and 10 assists.

For some reason.

Fourth quarter, 6:39, Celtics 100-82: The starters are officially done for the night. Well, except for Rajon Rondo, who shows no signs of slowing. Forty minutes and counting.

This is a little silly, if you think about it.

Fourth quarter, 8:27, Celtics 97-76: For the first time this season (or in any season, as far as I know), the Celtics' fans are doing the Wave. What is this, Fenway?

I know blowout wins over the Cavs are boring, but seeing 18,000 fans waving their arms in the air is a little unexpected.

But the C's lead by 21 in the fourth quarter, so why not? Do what you gotta do to stay entertained.

Fourth quarter, 9:54, Celtics 94-74: Kendrick Perkins plays first two minutes of the fourth quarter and then checks out. After 16 minutes total, he's likely done.

The (presumably) final stat line for Perk: seven points, 3-of-5 shooting, six rebounds, three assists. Not bad for his first game back. Not bad at all.

Luke Harangody checks in for Perk. He's also having a solid night so far, with five points and three boards in only 12 minutes.

End of third quarter, Celtics 91-69: Rajon Rondo is the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going and going and going. Rest? Who needs that?

Rondo has played 35 minutes and 27 seconds out of a possible 36. He had one quick breather for the final possession of the first quarter, when Von Wafer subbed in for him briefly. Since then, he's been good to go.

But why bother? Why overextend Rondo in a meaningless blowout of a bad team? It doesn't seem reasonable.

Third quarter, 2:57, Celtics 85-65: Glen Davis just took a charge from Christian Eyenga, but it doesn't look like he took it well. Big Baby is limping off the floor.

Baby's not the only one — Paul Pierce had a slight limp when he came off the floor earlier in the third quarter. No word yet on whether either injury is anything serious. I'd doubt it.

Third quarter, 5:30, Celtics 78-59: Ray Allen just drained his third 3 of the ballgame. He's now 20 away from Reggie.

Meanwhile, Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga are giving the Cavs a nice little scoring boost in the third quarter. They're eager to prove that they're not done yet.

Then again, they're probably done.

Third quarter, 7:48, Celtics 75-52: Looks like Semih Erden just got popped in the face by Ramon Sessions on a drive to the basket. He's going to be tough and stay in the ballgame.

We're seeing Semih become a much stronger, more physical defender over these last couple of games. He's really growing into his role as the Celtics' starting center.

Too bad Perk is now back and ready to rip that role away…

Third quarter, 9:40, Celtics 71-48: When you drop 24 points in the first half, you tend to press things a little bit to start the second. That appears to be the case with Paul Pierce.

The captain has rushed a couple of overly aggressive charges to the basket. He needs to be a little more composed if he wants to maintain the efficient offense.

Pierce was 8-for-12 in the first half. So far, he's 0-for-2 in the second.

Halftime, Celtics 67-45: One thing about this game is surprising: Kendrick Perkins made his return for the Celtics, a week and a half early. One thing is perfectly mundane: The C's have a monstrous lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Behind 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting from Paul Pierce, the C's are mauling the Cavs by 22 at the break. You never want to call a game over this early, especially after how Saturday went, but, uh, this one's over.

Ray Allen adds 11 points for Boston. Perkins comes off the bench for two points, four rebounds and three assists in nine minutes of play.

Chances are that after halftime, Perk can have all the rest he wants.

Second quarter, 3:19, Celtics 56-36: A minute ago, Ray Allen was 23 3-pointers away from tying Reggie Miller for the most ever. Now he's 21 away. That was fast.

Ray knocks down back-to-back treys, and the Celtics' lead suddenly jumps from 14 to 20. They're ready to put this thing away.

Then again, we all thought that on Saturday in Washington, too. The C's can't take anything for granted.

Second quarter, 5:59, Celtics 46-36: Rajon Rondo still hasn't sat for one millisecond. He's got seven points, three assists, and zero energy left.

With Marquis Daniels away from the team for personal reasons and Delonte West not yet ready to play, the C's have been hard-pressed for wing guys. They've had to play Rondo and Nate Robinson at the same time quite a bit, which leaves Rondo with little time to rest.

Second quarter, 8:54, Celtics 42-28: Rajon Rondo shows he's not afraid to take that deep jumper, knocking it down for the third time tonight. He's got seven points.

The Celtics' run is now 21-3.

It's almost as if the C's remembered, "Oh, right, we're playing Cleveland," and their demolition instinct kicked in.

Wonder what took them so long?

Second quarter, 10:30, Celtics 40-28: Luke Harangody just leapt for an offensive rebound off a Von Wafer miss, split two defenders to grab it, heaved it back down, and drew the foul as he finished. Count it. Three-point play.

The Celtics are now on a 19-3 run, and they're loving it. All four Celtic starters on the bench just jumped onto the floor to pile onto Harangody. They're loving the rookie right now.

End of first quarter, Celtics 31-26: Now that the Perk comeback drama has subsided, the Celtics can focus on playing winning basketball. They close the first quarter on a 10-1 run, capped off by a buzzer-beating jumper from Paul Pierce.

The captain just dropped 17 points in a single quarter. That's why they call him The Truth.

First quarter, 2:37, Cavs 23-21: Amid all this Perk-related drama, we shouldn't forget there's a basketball game to be played. At the moment, the Celtics are losing it.

The C's have allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 8-of-13 from the field as a team so far, including a 4-for-5 night from Antawn Jamison.

Kevin Garnett manhandled Jamison in the Eastern Conference playoffs last spring. Looks like 2011 is a new chapter in that rivalry.

First quarter, 4:41, Celtics 18-14: A few minutes ago, we saw Perk's first bucket; now here's his first assist. In the waning seconds of the shot clock, the big man kicks it out to Rajon Rondo for a 3. The Celtics extend their lead to four.

Perkins appears to have settled back into his old role offensively — he's not a great individual scoring threat, but he's going to be unselfish and keep the ball moving.

He's a dramatically different kind of center in that sense than, say, Shaquille O'Neal.

First quarter, 7:15, Celtics 13-8: Ladies and gentlemen, Kendrick Perkins is in, and he's already scored his first bucket of the ballgame, banging his way inside for a layup on J.J. Hickson.

The TD Garden shows the big man plenty of love upon his early entrance. Perk's standing ovation carries on throughout Ramon Sessions' two free throws, and to some extent, it's still going.

The Celtics' front line just got a whole lot tougher.

First quarter, 9:02, Celtics 5-4: Maybe the Celtics should rush Perk in a little faster. Semih Erden is getting destroyed by J.J. Hickson — on one hand, he's got to hack him to keep him from getting easy layups, and on the other end, Semih just got his shot stuffed.

The C's need a little extra toughness to show these Cavs who's boss. Where's the big fella?

First quarter, 11:38, Cavs 2-0: We're underway, as Christian Eyenga knocks down a wing 3 to give the Cavaliers an early lead.

As expected, the C's are going with a starting front line of Kevin Garnett and Semih Erden. No Perk just yet — he's still on the bench, in warmups, waiting his turn.

6:45 p.m.: This just in: The wait is over. Kendrick Perkins is being activated right now, and he will make his season debut on Tuesday night against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.

There is one slight catch, though: He's not expected to start. With both O'Neals still out and Perk coming off the bench, Semih Erden will once again be in the starting five. Perk will play with a tight minute restriction — coach Doc Rivers says to expect between 12 and 16 minutes from the big man in his first game back.

The last time Perkins played was Game 6 of the NBA Finals, when he went down in the first quarter with a devastating knee injury. It's been a long road to recovery over the last seven months, but the end of the road comes now.

8 a.m.: The Celtics were pretty dreadful in their loss Saturday night to the Wizards, in which they blew a 16-point lead and collapsed offensively down the stretch. Their five-game winning streak came to a shocking end at the Verizon Center, and they weren't about to make any excuses. It was totally and completely their fault.

They stopped executing. They started settling. Frankly, they couldn't hit a shot to save their lives.

These things happen. You play 82 games in a season, and occasionally an ugly one like this will pop up. But the C's can't dwell on the past — they've got to look to the future as they try to correct past mistakes. Their first chance comes Tuesday night, as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers at the TD Garden.

The Celtics have faced the Cavs twice already this year — the first was Game 2 of the season, and amid a letdown following an emotional opening win over the Heat, the C's collapsed. They lost 95-87 in their first road game of the season.

The third and final meeting comes Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It looks like a perfectly easy win for the Celtics on paper — the Cavs are in the mother of all tailspins, having lost 17 straight games and 27 of their last 28. But in actuality, the C's will have a few problems.

They'll be weakened up front by the absence of Shaquille O'Neal, who remains out of commission with a minor hip injury. Without Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal or Kendrick Perkins ready for game action, the C's will settle for Semih Erden as their starting center.

They'll be only 50-50 to have Marquis Daniels off the bench, as the backup wingman deals with a family matter away from the team.

And aside from personnel issues, it's simply a question of desire. How much do the Celtics want this win? They've had trouble in the past with overlooking inferior teams, which was a big reason they lost their first meeting with these Cavaliers and perhaps why they choked Saturday night in the nation's capital.

Come Tuesday night, the C's will look to end all doubts and grind out a win. In this playoff race, every single win counts — even the ones against the NBA's doormats.

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