BOSTON — Apparently, Detroit's Antonio McDyess isn't the only role-playing big man with something to say in the Eastern Conference finals.
Last night, Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins also entered the discussion.
After watching McDyess scorch Boston for a surprising 21 points and 16 rebounds the previous game, Perkins took it upon himself to deliver a spark in last night's pivotal Game 5.
The 6-foot-10 Perkins erupted for career playoff highs of 18 points, 16 rebounds and 39 minutes played to help the Celtics to a hard-fought 106-102 victory.
Boston, which got only three points off the bench, now holds momentum in the best-of-seven series (for now) with a 3-2 lead. The series shifts back to Detroit for Game 6 tomorrow (8:30 p.m.). A potential Game 7 would be held back at the Garden Sunday (time TBA).
Perkins, who is normally the fifth option offensively, was Boston's go-to-guy in the first quarter. Whether or not that was by design is debatable.
Nevertheless, The 23-year-old came out aggressive and took six shots in the quarter (the most by a Boston player) and made four of them. He finished the frame with eight points and eight rebounds in the full 12 minutes as the teams were tied up at 23-23.
The center's production opened up the floor for Kevin Garnett (a game-high 33 points) in the second quarter as the All-Star forward dropped in 11 points in the frame to help give the Celtics some separation at the half with a 52-46 lead.
Perkins took a double-double into the locker room with 12 points and 13 rebounds. More impressively, he had outrebounded the entire Detroit team at the break (13-11).
While the performance was arguably the best of Perkins' career offensively, it was every bit as good defensively.
He earned revenge on McDyess by holding the Pistons' forward/center to just four points and five rebounds for the game. Perkins also helped send McDyess into foul trouble before he fouled out with 4:04 to play.