Perk returns, Celtics roll over Cavs, 112-95

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Perk returns, Celtics roll over Cavs, 112-95

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The TD Garden erupted in applause four minutes after tip-off.

Kendrick Perkins rose from the Boston Celtics' bench and removed his warmup jersey, displaying number 43 for the first time in more than seven months. Cheers began to rumble as he walked over to the scorers table, many fans unaware of his early return.

But when the announcer introduced him for the first time this season, there was no mistaking it. The Garden crowd rose to its feet for a lengthy standing ovation.

Perkins was back.

"It felt good," Perkins said. "It felt real good, to be honest. I think just the support of everybody supporting me, I was just happy to be back out there."

Perkins return from right knee surgery dominated the attention in a matchup between the best and worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics handed the Cavs their 18th straight loss, 112-95, and improved to 34-10. The visiting Cavaliers, on the other hand, fell to 8-37.

Paul Pierce kicked off the night with 17 points in the first quarter. Perkins scored his first basket of the season at the 7:15 mark and finished the quarter with two points and two assists. The Celtics closed out the quarter on 12-3 run to lead, 34-26.

It as the first time all season that the C's starting five was on the court together.

"I thought he was terrific," Doc Rivers said of Perkins. "I thought as the game went on, his timing got better. I thought defensively he was terrific from the start. Just communication, we were loud against defensively, which was nice. You could hear him and Kevin Garnett barking orders defensively, and that makes us really good."

The Cs broke the game open in the second quarter, outscoring the Cavs 33-19. Ray Allen scored eight points in as many minutes, while Pierce chipped in another seven. Samardo Samuels and Manny Harris were the only Cavs players to score more than two points in the quarter. The Celtics took a 67-45 lead at halftime.

Even though the Cavs matched the Celtics with 24 points in the third, the deficit was too large to overcome. The Cs led, 91-69, after three quarters thanks to 11 points from their reserves. J.J. Hickson scored 10 points in 12 minutes for the Cavs.

The Celtics' second unit helped close out the game with a 21-point fourth quarter. Perkins finished his season debut with 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 fouls in 16 minutes - the max he was cleared to play. (He noted, to no surprise, that he wanted to play longer.)

"It felt good to be back," Perkins said. "The first quarter I got a little tired. After that, I got my second wind and I was alright. It felt good to be in the flow of things."

Pierce led all players with 24 points before heading back to the locker room during the fourth quarter after tweaking his ankle. (Rivers lightly referred to as a "veteran injury.) Christian Eyenga led the Cavaliers with 15.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Hayward: No one thing led him to Celtics, 'just a gut feeling'

Hayward: No one thing led him to Celtics, 'just a gut feeling'

In the end, what was it that led this summer's most coveted free agent, Gordon Hayward, to finally choose the Celtics?

"I don't know if there was one thing," Hayward told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on "The Woj Podcast" released Monday. "I think if I would've stayed in Utah, we would've been really good. It would've been a great situation for me. My family would have been happy. We loved it there.

"It was a different feeling in Boston that we had. It was like a gut feeling. When we broke it down, the city, the coaching staff, the players. The feeling of putting on a Boston Celtics uniform and competing for a title outweighed everything."

MORE CELTICS

More highlights from Hayward's first extended one-on-one interview since choosing the Celtics over the Utah Jazz and Miami Heat on July 4:

When is he moving to Boston?

"Early September," Hayward said. "We've found a place and we're in the process of moving our stuff back there. We're excited. With two little girls, we'd like to find some places we can go to all the time with little things they'd like to do."

On seeing [his former Butler coach] Brad Stevens there to greet him at Logan Airport on his Celtics visit: 

"I'm taking pictures at baggage claim with Brad and the fans. I had an immediate sense of familiarity...It did take me back to recruiting days...The relationship between Brad and I has been completely overstated and overhyped. There's always been rumors but those were just rumors. We had a great relationship but it wasn't like we were always texting each other. Everybody made it seem like we were besties and it wasn't like that.

"He immediately called me July 1 [after free agency opened] and I thought, 'Oh no this isn't going to be any different [from Butler]'"

On his visit to Fenway Park when the Celtics made their pitch to him:

"I'm not a baseball person at all but that was still really cool."

On his return visit to Boston after he announced he would sign with the Celtics:

"We went back to Boston and we were going to do the press conference there [it ended up being a conference call from his home near San Diego] I actually forgot my suit. We were going to go to Saks but we didn't have time. So we jumped in the car and went to Joseph A. Bank, which I got killed about [on social media]. We were walking around the city, we didn't know, and we could just feel it then though, you could feel the intensity. We went to dinner and went to the North End and I got my haircut. We kind of just jumped in and everyone was so excited and telling me they were happy I was in Boston. We almost just had a night in the heart of Boston and that was really cool." 

On the Celtics' history: 

"For Larry [Bird], I think was a little too young [to have grown up watching him]. Celtic lore to me because is how invested the fans are and how invested the organization is in winning. For me, it was a lot of you know I want to try to continue that greatness with the team they have now." 

What did Isaiah Thomas tell him on his visit?

"We really talked about going and getting Banner 18 more than anything. That was really the focus."

Report: Celtics have called Cavaliers about potential Kyrie Irving trade

Report: Celtics have called Cavaliers about potential Kyrie Irving trade

Celtics fans aren’t the only ones thinking of ways Kyrie Irving could end up in Boston.

Even though it would be hard to imagine last season’s No. 2 seed in the East trading one of the best players in the league to last season’s No. 1 seed in the East, ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote Monday that the Celtics have indeed called the Cavs about the 25-year-old point guard. 

Wrote Lowe:

Most teams, including the asset-rich Celtics, have placed the obligatory call letting Cleveland know they would like to be kept in the loop, sources say. Boston could offer Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and one of their golden picks -- Brooklyn's pick next season, or the Lakers/Kings pick they got from Philly in the Markelle Fultz deal. It's unclear if they would dangle all of that, but those picks could represent the young stud Cleveland needs. Regardless, a deal between the East's two best teams seems unlikely.

While nobody’s counting on Irving joining the Celtics, a trade of Irving elsewhere could still swing the balance in the East in Boston’s favor depending on what Cleveland gets back. Irving reportedly requested a trade from Cleveland earlier this month.