West glad to be back, if only as a visitor
There always will be a bond and affection between Delonte West and the Celtics. And while the guard’s departure after last season was a surprise, he returned to Boston last night all smiles playing with the defending champion Mavericks.
He was in the starting lineup and scored Dallas’s first 6 points. He finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in the Mavericks’ 90-85 win.
West had expressed a desire to return to the Celtics this season but was not pleased with the team’s minimum offer. The Celtics acquired Keyon Dooling from Milwaukee and re-signed Marquis Daniels, and West ended up accepting a minimum offer from Dallas.
“It’s another game, really,’’ West said. “I am sure my friends will be happy to see me. We’re two old veteran heavyweights trying to get on track and trying to get some momentum going. Right now I’m playing for the Dallas Mavericks and the only focus is to win.’’
West was often injured during his second stint with the Celtics, limited to 24 regular-season games last season because of a broken wrist and sprained ankle. He already has appeared in 11 games this season.
“You are talking about the Boston Celtics, you are talking about Bill Russell and Red Auerbach, spots fill up real quickly over here,’’ he said. “I had a few options myself. I had the Los Angeles Lakers knocking on my door, the Dallas Mavericks, the Boston Celtics.
“It was kind of hard for me to choose myself. This ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve been in this locker room before. This is a crazy league. You never know where you’ll end up.’’
Asked if he wanted to return to Boston, he said, “No question. I would have loved to have finished my career in green and white. I plan on playing in this league until you make me go. I plan on playing 20 more years. I’ll probably be back here on the other side.’’
After the game, West gave respect to the Celtics’ defense.
“I forgot how good of a defensive team Boston is,’’ he said. “They do a great job of forcing you to do what they want to do. I snapped back for a minute, and caught myself doing a little too much out there. My teammates carried me through the end.’’
About a week earlier than expected, Mickael Pietrus made his Celtics debut, entering the game with 1:25 left in the first quarter and providing energy. He had 5 points and 2 steals in 18 minutes.
Pietrus signed on Christmas Eve and took the past two weeks to improve the strength in his surgically repaired right knee. He had not played in an NBA game since March 23, when he tweaked his knee playing with the Suns.
The Suns sent him to the Raptors, but Toronto called off the deal after discovering that it would take four weeks for Pietrus to be healthy. The Celtics swooped in and signed the veteran to a minimum deal minutes after he cleared waivers.
“Anytime I step on the floor I’m trying to give the team my heart,’’ he said. “The Celtics are my heart now. And that’s why I thought people on the Celtics are going to play harder. I tell you everything, that’s what I’m going to bring every night and I’m not going to lie to you, I’m here to win a championship.’’
Pietrus showed signs of fatigue after his first game in 10 months. After ripping the ball from West near the Mavericks basket, he flipped the ball to Ray Allen for a fast break but stood motionless and exhausted, calling for Doc Rivers to replace him.
“He was phenomenal,’’ Rivers said. “I thought he was one of our best players in the game. He clearly gave our team energy. He’s exactly what we need. And it’s just going to get better. Even if it didn’t, I’d take it. Really. His energy, his joy - he brought joy to the game. You know, you can just see it. He was so happy to play, and really the only reason he came out was because he was dying. He was getting tired and I had to take him out.’’
Daniels participated in shootaround and was available for the game but did not play. He sat out the previous two practices because of migraines, not flu-like symptoms as the team initially reported. Daniels said he started feeling symptoms in a Sunday workout and did not return to the court until yesterday morning in Waltham.
“I feel a whole lot better,’’ he said. “Bad migraines. Darkness, no sound, it was awful. I feel a lot better now. It was the first time I’ve ever had it.’’
Daniels is 7 for his past 32 from the field and is shooting just 27.1 percent this season. Many of those misses have been layups, which could be attributed to rust after missing most of last season because of a spinal injury and surgery and then enduring the long lockout.
“I just need to get in the gym more, keep working on my shot,’’ he said. “Just keep trying to get better, regardless of me being ill or whatever. I just need to get my rhythm back, I need to get in here. It’s valuable for me. Those are shots I normally make. They are going to fall.’’
Kidd sits out
Dallas’s Jason Kidd missed the game with a lower back strain, the third consecutive game the standout guard has missed . . . Rivers said Sasha Pavlovic has been nursing the same sore left wrist that affected him in training camp. His playing time has been slashed drastically since he started the first three games in place of an injured Paul Pierce. Pavlovic and JaJuan Johnson were on the inactive list.