By A.Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON Kendrick Perkins understands that one of the reasons why the Boston Celtics have been so successful in recent years is because all the players, himself included, have accepted very defined roles.
But when injuries come about, roles change, and in the case of Perkins, they even expand.
That certainly was the case on Sunday as the Celtics needed Perkins to do more than just rebound and defend.
They needed him to score.
And Perkins didn't disappoint, scoring a season-high 15 points in helping the Celtics escape with an 85-82 win over the Miami Heat.
"We told Perk that he had to be a great rover and finisher (against the Heat)," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "Because they do a great job of showing with their bigs. I told him, 'just trust the pass. it will be there.' "
Perkins had added motivation with the Celtics having lost three of their last four games, and in need of a win over Miami to stay atop the Eastern Conference standings.
As far as his game, Perkins came into it knowing that he would get opportunities to score.
"We know they're a great help team (defensively)," Perkins said. "They trap hard on the pick-and-roll, so we felt like if you set a good pick on those guys, get guys open, the guy who sets the pick is usually open."
In addition to his scoring, Perkins was also instrumental in the Celtics' defense keeping the Heat from having their way around the basket.
"Every night, Perk's good defensively," Rivers said. "I don't have to worry about that."
Perkins was also aided by some impressive shooting from the free throw line.
Shooting a career-low 48 percent from the line this season, Perkins made all seven of his free throw attempts.
Even more impressive than the free throws and the point total, was the fact that he played 31 minutes.
Perkins, who returned ahead of schedule last month following surgery to repair a torn MCL and PCL injury suffered in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last June, has played at least 30 minutes in each of the Celtics' last five games.
"I'm all right," Perkins said. "Luckily we got a few days in between games right now. I'm just making sure I get my rest, coming in and getting treatments, stuff like that. Obviously I'm a little sore all over the place. But at the end of the day, I'm just happy to be back on the court. Being happy to be out there is just overpowering everything else."