West makes emotional debut after months of buildup

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West makes emotional debut after months of buildup

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - There was a point during the summer when Delonte West didn't know if he would ever play in the NBA again.

Just four months ago, he was waiting for a ruling from the league after pleading guilty to weapons charges.

On Wednesday night, he was waiting for Doc Rivers call his name to play for the Boston Celtics.

West felt a surge of emotion when he took his first step on to the court since serving a 10-game suspension.

Then he was hit by reality.

"I was anxious," he said after the Celtics victory over the Washington Wizards. "I was wondering how the crowd was going to respond. They showed me a lot of love. I almost had a tear in my eye. Then Nick Young gave me like four buckets in a row and then the tears dried real fast. I remembered I'm back in the NBA."

West has been eagerly waiting for November 17, biding his time by practicing with the team and getting in workouts while they were on the road.

Aside from exhibition games, Wednesday was the first night this regular season West has been allowed at the TD Garden during game time. He was able to do the little things he coveted and missed during his suspension -- listen to coach Doc Rivers' pregame speech, get hyped up in the team huddle, and run out of the tunnel on to the parquet in a Celtics uniform. They all added up to a big moment.

"I just thank the Lord that the ownership here and coaching staff and director of basketball operations Danny Ainge, they know what I'm about," he said. "They knew the difference between a bad decision and a bad person. I'm just blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love to do."

West was greeted by a standing ovation when he checked in for the first time with 3:12 left in the first quarter. His first contribution was fittingly an assist to Paul Pierce, whom he played with for three seasons during his first stint in Boston.

West finished the first half with two points and one assist, a rebound, a steal, and a foul in eight minutes. He admitted initially his timing was off and he wanted to get his feet wet without forcing the game.

"I didn't want to do too much," he said. "Sometimes your not doing too much is not what the team needs you to do."

He responded in the second half by shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the field (including a pair of 3-pointers) and added another 10 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 14 minutes. He finished the game with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

"That was terrific," Rivers said of West's debut. "You know, rusty a little bit on the first stint. I thought after halftime he probably got his legs a little bit and he just played terrific. He gives us obviously he gives us offense but he gives us another tough guard on the floor, and that's good for us."

The players agree. Not only does West offer the Celtics versatility by playing both the point and shooting guard, he is also a reliable asset off the bench when the starters need a breather.

"Delonte looked really good," said Kevin Garnett. "We saw him when we got back from the road trip, and you could tell he'd been doing double days. We get the feedback from his work and we're just happy that he was out there. He's going to be big for us, man. We are glad to have him back."

Shaquille O'Neal, who played with West on the Cleveland Cavaliers, considers him a very smart athlete who can be misunderstood at times. O'Neal knows his tenacity and believes he can provide a spark for the Celtics.

"He's been wanting to play for a long time," said O'Neal. "He's been practicing with us. While on the road he's been working out two, three times a day. He's ready, he's going to be focused."

West was so focused on his return, in fact, that he barely slept for three days.

"Last night I stayed up til 3, 4 o'clock in the morning trying to put a nice ensemble together, laying my clothes out on the floor," he said. "I realized, hey get some sleep."

But West doesn't have to rummage through his closet anymore. The outfit that suits him best is hanging in his locker.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”