BOSTON When the season began, Chris Wilcox was an everyday rotation player who entered games as a first-quarter sub for Kevin Garnett.
Injuries, inconsistent play and the emergence of Jared Sullinger (and to a lesser extent, Jason Collins) relocated Wilcox to near end-of-the-bench status even after he was cleared to play following his most recent ailment.
Sullinger's season-ending back surgery has paved the way for Wilcox to garner more minutes, and the veteran is making the most of the opportunity.
Although the final score in Boston's 116-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers was decisively lopsided, Wilcox's play off the bench was among the subtle but important contributions in the Celtics victory.
He will look to do more of the same going forward as a viable option for Doc Rivers to turn to when Garnett needs a rest.
"It's just a matter of coming in there and doing our jobs," Wilcox told CSNNE.com. "We know when KG comes out, we have to hold it down and give this team a lift."
Wilcox did just that on Thursday, tallying eight points and a season-high nine rebounds off the C's bench in just 18 minutes of action.
More than his points, Wilcox provided a presence around the basket and on the break that opened things up for either him or his teammates.
And maybe even more significant, he helped the C's keep control of the game when Garnett left with early foul trouble and Boston was clinging to a two-point lead.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers initially turned to Jason Collins, but he picked up three fouls in five minutes.
In came Wilcox with the scored tied. By the time the first quarter ended, Wilcox had helped the C's pull ahead by four points.
Even with his improved play, Wilcox still sees himself as a work in progress with plenty of room to get better.
"I'm getting there," he said. "I have to get my timing down. I missed a couple of easy lobs. But like I said, that just comes with timing. Other than that, I've just been out there playing hard."
But when he wasn't playing, Wilcox was watching his teammates, figuring out what he could do to help once he was healthy enough to resume playing.
"So I know now when I come into the game, what I need to bring," Wilcox said.
Boston is playing a more uptempo game now which C's coach Doc Rivers believes is also beneficial to Wilcox's game.
But the reason he is starting to see an uptick in his minutes, is because his defense is improving.
"I thought defensively he's getting his hands on balls, he's deflecting balls, he was doing the Tyson Chandler, keeping balls alive ... he was doing a great job (against the Lakers)."
And now comes the challenge which has been there for Wilcox all season - being consistent.
"I know what I gotta do," Wilcox said. "Doc's just preaching defense, defense defense so I get out there and start playing defense and it just turns over to offense. It's fun like that.
Wilcox added, "The main thing is winning man. That's why I came here. Anything I can do to help us do that, I'm all for. Because that's all we're about in this locker room, doing whatever you gotta do to help this team win games."