Wilcox happy to play for contending Celts

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Wilcox happy to play for contending Celts

WALTHAM Chris Wilcox has no idea how much he'll play for the Boston Celtics this season. But playing time at this point in his career is not important.

Wilcox is in his ninth NBA season, with the previous eight ending the same: no trip to the playoffs. He said a chance to contribute on a playoff team was among the many things that made Boston so attractive to him.

The feeling was mutual, as Danny Ainge told the media today that the Celtics offered Wilcox their mini mid-level exception to come here.

"This would be my first chance playing for a team of this caliber," he said. "I was willing to take this opportunity to come out here to Boston."

The closest Wilcox came to the postseason was in 2006 with the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Clippers had no love for him that year, shipping him out to Seattle (now Oklahoma City) on Valentine's Day for Vladimir Radmonovic.

His lack of postseason success is surprising when you consider his resume is filled with championship-caliber success at every stop.

In high school, he won a state title as a junior. At the University of Maryland, he was instrumental in the team's first national championship, in 2002. That success led to him being the No. 8 pick in the 2002 NBA draft.

But since then, Wilcox has rarely shown the consistency that comes with being a top-10 talent. In 576 NBA games (250 starts), he has career averages of 8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent from the field. But in Boston, he won't be counted on to carry the team.

In fact, if he can put up numbers similar to his career averages, all involved would consider the season a successful one.

Ray Allen, who played one season (2006-2007) with Wilcox in Seattle, is happy to see the 29-year-old in a Celtics uniform.

"A lot of people don't know him," Allen said. "Just the fact that he was on the West coast most of his career and playing in Detroit where he didn't play a whole lot. A lot of people don't really know him, haven't had an idea of seeing him when he gets on the floor and seeing his athletic ability . . . it makes the team more exciting."

Allen believes one player who should benefit from Wilcox's presence, is point guard Rajon Rondo.

"It gives Rondo a different dimension, fast-break wise, especially with so many shooters out there," Allen said.

Head coach Doc Rivers has simple expectations for Wilcox.

"Energy, athleticism (and) running the floor," are the qualities Rivers believes Wilcox will provide the Celtics this season.

"Defensively, he can be solid for us," Rivers added. "He's got a good motor. So that's what we're expecting from him."

As for why Wilcox hasn't enjoyed more success in the NBA, Rivers said there's no rhyme or reason.

"I know here, the environment he's in, will help him," Rivers said. "Playing against Kevin (Garnett) everyday, has to help."

Rivers can see the changes in Wilcox in even something as simple as when he takes a water break.

"He's laughing today, I've not had a water break in three days," Rivers recalled Wilcox saying. "I said, 'You'll be saying that at the end of the year, too. You can go get it (water) whenever you want, but we're not going to break for 15 minutes so everybody can sit down and have water.' "

Apparently that was something new to Wilcox.

"That's the way it is," Rivers said. "He's getting used to it. I saw him today, four or five times grab a cup. I want you to drink water all practice; we're just not going to have a whole little seance about it."

DeRozan has career-high 43, Raptors beat Celtics, 107-97

DeRozan has career-high 43, Raptors beat Celtics, 107-97

TORONTO - DeMar DeRozan scored a career-high 43 points and the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics 107-97 on Friday night.

DeRozan shot 15 of 28 from the floor as he surpassed his 42-point effort against the Houston Rockets on March 30, 2015, helping the Raptors overcome the absence of fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry. Lowry sat out with a right wrist injury.

Serge Ibaka, acquired by trade from the Orlando Magic last week, scored 15 points in his debut, while fellow newcomer P.J. Tucker, picked up from the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, had a game-high 10 rebounds and nine points in his first game for his new team.

Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston, which also got 19 points each from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart.

Down 91-88 with 4:11 to play, the Raptors went on a 9-1 run to lead by five with 2:01 to play. Though Crowder cut that lead to three with a jump shot with 1:46 remaining, DeRozan drilled a jump shot with a minute remaining to put the Raptors up by five.

Tucker was unable to convert either free throw after being fouled by Al Horford with 47 seconds left, but Thomas missed the next time down the court, and after being fouled by Smart, DeRozan converted both free throws with 33 seconds to play. He then followed up with two more after a three-point play from Smart to take the game away from Boston with 27.5 seconds to go.

The Celtics found their range early, connecting on 55 percent of their shots from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range in the first quarter. The Raptors could only hit 40 percent and went 0 for 3 from beyond the arc, and while DeRozan topped all scorers with 10 points, they were trailing 29-18 after 12 minutes.

Boston pushed its lead to 17 on a 3-point shot from Jaylen Brown with 1:29 to play in the half, but Toronto closed on a 7-0 run following a flagrant foul by Thomas on DeRozan.

The Raptors continued their comeback effort in the third quarter, with Ibaka's 3-pointer with 5:58 to go capping a 27-8 Toronto run to give the Raptors their first lead since the 3:54 mark of the first quarter. Smart's 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining handed Boston a 77-74 edge entering the final 12 minutes.

Mannix: Celtics going to be in best bargaining situation this summer

Mannix: Celtics going to be in best bargaining situation this summer

Chris Mannix helps break down what the Boston Celtics could do with all the cap space this offseason in hopes that they can build a championship team to compete next season.