Celtics notebook

Perkins is untangling situation

Doc Rivers has some mock applause for the referees after being ejected last night. Doc Rivers has some mock applause for the referees after being ejected last night. (Danny Chan La/Associated Press)
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / March 23, 2010

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SALT LAKE CITY — With the Celtics pushing for playoff seeding, Kendrick Perkins has an individual challenge to deal with.

He’s sitting on 14 technical fouls — two short of an automatic one-game suspension — with 12 games left after last night’s 110-97 loss to the Jazz.

He’ll have to walk on eggshells, not just being respectful of referees or avoiding unnecessary confrontations with opponents, but monitoring his reactions to incidents that could rile him.

“My technical fouls have been tangle-ups,’’ said Perkins, who had 7 points, 8 rebounds, and no technicals in 24 minutes. “It hasn’t been at the refs, it’s been tangle-ups. I’m just trying to do a better job of not getting them. I’m trying not to get any more. You’ve got to knock on wood.’’

At the start of the season, it seemed Perkins was battling teammate Rasheed Wallace for the league lead in technicals. Perkins had 10 by the end of December. Wallace had eight in the first 18 games.

They’ve both calmed down since then. Perkins has drawn just four, his most recent March 15 against Detroit. Wallace has been whistled for another eight, but three were rescinded, putting his total at 13.

“I think he understands his value to the team, and he’s trying to pull it back,’’ coach Doc Rivers said of Wallace. “I tend not to try to talk about it because when you do, that’s the night.’’

Rivers hasn’t stressed the importance of good behavior to Perkins and Wallace. Instead, he sent a message to the entire team.

“I told them all, ‘If you want to hurt the team you’re going to hurt the team,’ ’’ Rivers said. “There’s nothing I can do other than that. If you get to 16 and you get suspended, it could be a very important night that you’re not playing and it hurts the team.’’

The Celtics are 35-13 when their starting lineup is intact. Perkins missed his only game of the season March 2 with flu-like symptoms, and the Celtics managed to defeat the Pistons, 105-100. But if he needs motivation, looking at the schedule (Denver, Sacramento, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston, Cleveland) should be enough.

If not?

“They have wives,’’ Rivers said jokingly. “When they get close to that number, I’m sure their wives remind them. Just like every time I get a fine or tech I get a nice, pleasant fine from my wife.’’

Hitting a two
Rajon Rondo had been two different players the previous four games, and each identity has been effective.

There’s the Rondo who makes himself scarce on offense while clamping down on defense, taking 2-5 shots to create opportunities for teammates. Then there’s the Rondo who took over in the fourth quarter against Dallas Saturday, making all five of his shots in a 10-point quarter that pushed the Celtics to a comeback victory.

He said he embraces taking charge in clutch situations as much as setting up teammates.

“I always want to be in the game,’’ said Rondo, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds vs. Dallas. “I definitely need my rest, but I love to be in those situations. I try not to do too much to be the hero, but at the same time just take what the defense gives me. Still play with my teammates, try to get them easy looks at the basket.’’

Rondo had 6 points and 6 assists in 28 minutes last night.

Building block
When the Celtics crushed Utah, 105-86, at the Garden Nov. 11, breaking out the “Gino’’ clips and laughing on the bench, Carlos Boozer said the Jazz used the loss as motivation.

Deron Williams told the Salt Lake Tribune that players talked about the things they saw in the Celtics that the Jazz lacked.

“We were just struggling up to that point,’’ Williams said yesterday. “We kind of just talked after that game and got things turned around a little bit. You saw how much fun they were having playing together.’’

The Celtics were 8-1 at that point, on their way to a 23-5 start. The Jazz were 3-5, the farthest they’ve been below .500 all season. The teams entered last night’s game with the same number of wins.

“They always had it in them, and now they’re getting it out,’’ Rivers said. “

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