Perkins improves his game while on the shelf

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Perkins improves his game while on the shelf

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

Kendrick Perkins grabbed a basketball and hoisted up a long-range shot in between quarters of last week's Celtics-Nuggets game.

Nothing but . . . air.

"You seen that shot?" he laughed. "I couldnt get my suit jacket up."

Perkins continues to stay close to the game while he rehabs from a right knee injury he suffered during the NBA Finals. He supports his team from the bench at the TD Garden and goes through drills of his own at the Celtics practice facility.

Last month Perkins filled CSNNE.com in on four things to know about his rehab. He recently shared new updates on his road to recovery as he eyes a return to the court in February.

STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Perkins was fitted for a new knee brace last week and plans to begin wearing it on Tuesday. He anticipates the latest brace will allow him to do even more on the court.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time," he said. "I think I'm starting to do more basketball things. Last Wednesday I got measured for my knee brace, so it's been cool. It means I can start doing more court work, stuff like that."

A JUMP SHOOTER IN THE MAKING
Perkins' goals go beyond returning healthy. He wants to return a better basketball player, too, and is focusing on specific areas of his game.

"Believe it or not, just more of my jumper, just touch around the 12, 15-foot area," he said. "If I have a shot, take it, stuff like that. And improving my free-throw shooting (60.4 FT career), that's been my thing. So I'm trying to drop a few more pounds. I want to lose about 10 more to get down to 260."

AN UNDERSTANDING EAR
Perkins is just one of several injured players on the Celtics. While he's there to listen if teammates like Delonte West and Jermaine ONeal want to talk, he also respects the sensitivity of their situations.

"Yeah, in a way I do give them advice, but at times it's like, what can you tell a guy?" he said. "You can tell him to stay positive, just pull him along to work out with you, things like that. Other than that, you don't really want to pile too much on him because I know it's a difficult time."

NEW SOURCE OF STRENGTH
As Perkins' physical strength improves, so does his mental endurance. Perkins, who turned 26 last month, has learned a lot about himself in the past six months.

"I think mentally you grow better as a person," he reflected. "It's easy when things are going good for you. You can always stay in the flow of things. But when there's adversity against you, it's how you deal with it. So I think mentally I became stronger.

"Obviously I want to be back out there on the court, but other than that, things are going real well."
Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba.

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."