Pretenders to the throne: Howard and Orlando runs out of Magic against Perkins and the Celtics

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Let’s get one thing out of the way. It’s personal with Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins. There’s no one in the league that plays the Orlando man-child better or more physical, and it’s not an accident. While, the two men say all the right things in the press and they might hug before tip-off, but Kendrick does not think much of Dwight Howard and his sizable reputation and popularity.

For one, He gets too many calls.

He’s got a lot more beach muscle than game.

And, truth be told, he’s overrated. Dwight Howard is the muscular dude at the beach with the hot girlfriend and the perfect hair. A superman’s cape? Would KG ever do that? Well, he sort of has, in the Finals! Leave the cape behind young man, just lace em up and let’s see who the better man is.

And the better man, is Kendrick Perkins. Between the lines, that is. Perk’s not as pretty as Dwight. His stats aren’t as glossy, but Perk is the better basketball player, Dwight is the better specimen. Or, is he? Perkins is in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in. He’s certainly every bit the athlete Dwight Howard is, although I’d imagine people would argue that one with me.

But, one thing is certain. Nobody guards Dwight Howard better than Kendrick Perkins, and it’s something that is impossible to prove with stats. Howard’s stats against the Celtics are gawdy for sure, but he hasn’t been that good against Perkins, because Perkins doesn’t think Howard is a better player than him and that’s the secret to beating Dwight Howard. You can’t let his muscles beat you.

Going into the game, it’s clear that the key for Perk is keeping Howard from getting to the rim without picking up a cheap foul. The longer he keeps Howard from getting into the paint the the more likely the Celtics are to win, and in the first quarter Perk wins the battle early. He muscles Howard out of the half-circle and edges him in stats.

At the end of their first quarter duel, Perkins has has 2 points 5 rebounds to 1 point and 4 rebounds for Howard.

The secret was that Perk bodied him out of position and took it right at him on offense twice, to no avail, but any defense Howard has to play against Kendrick is again, a victory for Perk. Howard’s flatness seems to hurt his team too.

Two plays illustrate Perk’s defensive brilliance.

5:00 in the second quarter: Howard loads Perk up one-on-one on the right hand side. Dwight has him in his sweet spot. The only problem is that Perk has bodied Howard past five feet out. Normally, Howard could throw a hard spin move that would knock his defender off him and freeing his shoulders. Once squared up, Howard will kill ninety percent of the centers in the league with an explosive dunk, especially if he creates space for himself. But the difference is that Perk can push him a foot past his comfort zone. He also has the strength to withstand the hard spin, so Perk cuts off the space Howard has to dribble. Howard’s now stuck deciding whether to shoot a hook or a turnaround, and that is not Howard’s game. Perk, who came up defending Al Jefferson every day in practice, knows Howard doesn’t have that dangerous release, so he cuts off all available day light and Howard shoots a brick.

4:00 minutes left in the second: Howard catches the ball in the post eight feet out. By the time he squares up Perk has pushed him three feet further out than the last time they squared off in the paint. Howard has no choice but to drive, and no matter what move he makes, Kevin Garnett is there to cut off the rim. That’s how the Celtics kill you, they have a seven foot wall protecting the rim, even if you get past the first defender. Howard has once again stepped into the jaws of the Celtics defense. From this point on, Howard has yet to get off. That, in itself is huge.

In fact, Howard only gets one dunk off in the first half and they both finish the half with similar numbers.

Howard has 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks in 21 minutes. That looks pretty good until you see that it took seven shots and four free throws to get there. That’s a 28 percent success rate right there.

Perkins has 4 points, 7 rebounds, and one block in 15 minutes. That’s four points on four shots and no free throws, for a 50 percent success rate. His efficiency is obviously better and all his minutes come against Howard, on the other hand Howard gets some of his stats off of Glen Davis.

Just by looking at the stats, you’d think Howard got the better of Perk by the fact that the Magic are within 2 points. Yet Howard does less than nothing, essentially neutralized for an entire half. If that’s Superman, Kendrick might just need the new nickname of Kryptonite.

In the third quarter, as the Celtics build a big lead Perkins continues to push Howard out of his comfort zone. When he comes out with 4:10 in the third, Howard has 10 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks on 3-9 shooting and six free throws, compared to Perk’s 4 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block on 2-5 shooting.

Perkins sits for a long time and by the time he comes back with 5:00 left in the fourth, Howard has amassed a 14, 14, 4 line. He’s getting fat off of Big Baby, who’s doing an admirable job against a man 5 inches taller.

Perk dominates the rest of the matchup from here on in, beating Howard 4-0 on points and 5-1 on boards. Besides getting another bullshit tech, what can you say? Cassel got tossed from the bench.

Howard finishes the game with 14 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks in 40 minutes. He shot 5-12. However, head to head against Perk, he had 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Perk, who played every minute against Howard, finished with 8 points, 13 rebounds, and 1 block on 4-7 shooting in 28 minutes, all of which he played against Dwight Howard.

The Celtics cruise to an easy 107-88 win. Perk wins the head to head battle. Good job big man, Ercell would be proud of her boy tonight.

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