Boston wins battle of the benches in the opener Print
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Friday, 06 June 2008 12:19
NBA Headline News

 BOSTON (AP) -Their reserves have been a strength in the postseason, and were expected to give the Los Angeles Lakers an advantage against the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals.
Instead, Phil Jackson somewhat ignored them in the opener.
The Celtics' reserves outplayed their counterparts in Boston's 98-88 Game 1 victory, and Jackson took the blame Friday.
``I really shortened the minutes of the bench last night, so that's not their fault about not scoring and no productivity,'' Jackson said. ``The adjustments that our younger players will make, our bench players will be noticeable as we go through.''
Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf and Luke Walton combined for 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Only Vujacic played more than 14 minutes.
``We didn't produce the way we've been doing for most of the year, but I don't feel that our bench really had the same opportunity that we've had throughout the year,'' said Walton, who was scoreless. ``When we go out there together, we like to make it a point to pick up the pace a little bit and do our own thing, but because of fouls and whatnot we were kind of playing sporadic minutes as opposed to all going in together.''
James Posey, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell and Leon Powe totaled 17 points off Boston's bench. Cassell scored eight, and Brown pulled down six rebounds before exiting to a loud ovation late in the game.
``We feel like we have a good bench,'' Brown said. ``We feel like we have a bench that can match up with most of the teams in the NBA. Are we better? I think that remains to be seen, this is only one game.''
Powe, who played well this season when Kevin Garnett was out with an abdominal strain, agreed.
``We got guys on our bench that can play,'' he said. ``If you look at the regular season, everyone on that bench had really big games, and when people got hurt, everybody filled in, chipped in and we kept our winning alive. And that's because of the bench.''
Still, most of Boston's reserves had been inconsistent during the postseason, with coach Doc Rivers giving them fluctuating minutes. Meanwhile, the Lakers' second unit had been successful, playing an uptempo style when Kobe Bryant was on the bench and helping Los Angeles become the highest-scoring team in the playoffs.
The Celtics kept the game at their tempo Thursday, which Vujacic said must change, adding that the bench ``wasn't there the way we were supposed to be there and I think we can do a much better job ... kind of push the ball a little bit more against them and we'll be OK.''
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PERK'D UP: Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, who was injured in the third quarter Thursday night and did not return, said he'll be back for Game 2.
``Yeah, I'm going to play,'' he said Friday. ``You know, there's going to be pain. It's the finals, so you've got to suck it up.''
Perkins was hurt when he was trying to box Derek Fisher out on a free throw and the Lakers guard fell on his left ankle. Perkins told coach Doc Rivers he could come back and give 60 percent, but Rivers decided to stick with healthy backup P.J. Brown.
Perkins was more concerned about his role in another injury: He collided with Paul Pierce and sent the All-Star forward to the trainer's room in a wheelchair. But Pierce was back a few minutes later, returning to the game to hit a pair of 3-pointers that gave Boston the lead for good.
``I was really mad at myself,'' Perkins said. ``You know, I was just trying to help him out and go challenge the shot, and he was probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But when he came back I was happy. But man, I was kind of mad at myself for a minute, though.''
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HONDO'S HOPES: John Havlicek has seen the Celtics dig themselves out of plenty of difficult situations before, so he had no doubt they would do it again after Paul Pierce was hurt in Game 1.
Havlicek was in the arena Thursday night to see Pierce go down with a knee injury, but the Hall of Famer expected the Celtics to pull through, as they did in their 98-88 victory.
``I think that when it happened, it was a deflation of the spirit somewhat, but then when he came back it was resurrected,'' Havlicek said. ``But I knew the players on the team when that happened and Doc (Rivers) said, 'Hey, you're here for one purpose. A lot of things are going to go your way, a lot of things are going to go the other way, you just have to fight through them.' And I think that's what they did.''
Havlicek helped the Celtics win eight NBA titles, half of their NBA-record total, during his Hall of Fame career. He joined fellow alumni Bill Russell, JoJo White and Satch Sanders, along with current Boston players such as Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis and Brian Scalabrine, and NBA commissioner David Stern on Friday for the dedication of an NBA Reading and Learning Center at the Blackstone Community Center.
Havlicek said he sees Russell occasionally at golf tournaments, and joked that they prefer to talk about the old days rather than the struggles the Celtics have endured in recent years before this season's turnaround.
``I guess the low point was a year ago when they lost 18 straight or something like that,'' Havlicek said. ``But you know there are cyclical things in sports and they reached rock bottom. Now they're riding the wave of that championship feeling. So I think you have to go through the good and the bad, and fortunately right now they're fighting for a championship.''
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LOOKING TO REBOUND: Pau Gasol's NBA finals debut drew huge media attention from his native Spain. He would have liked to give the home fans a better performance.
Gasol scored well in the first half but didn't rebound, and went to the boards better but had only one field goal in the second half. He finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in the Lakers' 98-88 loss.
The center seemed most disappointed by his work on the glass, lamenting a couple of times he failed to block out Kevin Garnett.
``First half I didn't start with the bounce necessary and I did not get my body going to be effective on the boards,'' Gasol said. ``I didn't put a body on Garnett.
``The first two offensive boards he got, it was a consequence of me not going after his body and he got a chance to get them both. So obviously that was a sign of me not being with the bounce necessary to be able to go after the ball and get those boards that wouldn't lead to second-chance opportunities for them.''
A record 27 media members from Spain were among the 280 international media members, also a record, from 35 countries and territories who are on site covering the finals.
The finals will be televised to 205 countries and territories in 46 languages. In 1987, the last time the Lakers and Celtics met in the finals, the games were televised to only 28 countries and territories.
That audience watched Garnett grab 13 rebounds in Game 1, helping Boston to a 46-33 bulge on the boards. Gasol knows he needs to be a bigger obstacle Sunday.
``Hopefully in Game 2, that's going to change and I'll be able to help my team a lot better,'' he said.
 

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