Gauging Comeback, Olowokandi Returns to Practice

WALTHAM - Backup center Michael Olowokandi was back on the practice floor for the first time in several weeks today after missing the last month with an abdominal strain he suffered against the Indiana Pacers on November 15 while battling Jermaine O'Neal for a rebound.

Olowokandi isn't sure if he'll be ready for Wednesday night, as he awaits clearance from the team's medical staff. In the meantime, with all of the recent injuries befalling the team as of late, Coach Doc Rivers was pleased to have another body on the floor.

"That was a nice surprise. I didn't know it was going to happen. He looked OK. He was supposed to only go through the drills, and then he went through the entire practice," said Rivers, who noted that Olowokandi may be activated for Wednesday's game against Golden State. "O really wants to play."

So will we see Olowokandi in a game this week?

"If things keep progressing between now and then, I don't see why not," Olowokandi said. "When I'm needed, I told coach I'll be ready."

Olowokandi doesn't expect to be 100% when he does retake the floor, but he expects to be able to contribute some minutes on the defensive end. While he said conditioning isn't a problem since he's been working out on the treadmill recently, he still feels he'll likely be a step behind with his timing.

"I wish conditioning was the problem. It's just sudden movements and being able to react," said Olowokandi, who noted that he's been running the floor and wanted to test himself in a real practice setting to see if he could take the next step. "Right now, I'm just trying to guage and see where I'm really at."

Ryan Gomes (strained right calf) didn't practice and was relegated to stationary bike work, but Rivers reported that he "felt great" and should practice tomorrow and he hopes to be ready for Wednesday. Towards the end of practice, Gomes was seated next to Kendrick Perkins, who had his left foot planted in a large bucket of ice.

Wally Szczerbiak could be seen on the trainer's table after practice, presumably getting treatment on his sprained right ankle. Szczerbiak had just recovered from a left ankle sprain (Dec 1. Vs Toronto) last week before injuring his right ankle in the third quarter Saturday night against Charlotte.

"I would say he'll miss the West Coast trip," said Rivers. "This is worse than the other one."

Fallout from Fight Night at MSG

When the Celtics travel to Denver on Tuesday to play the Nuggets, they won't be seeing Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith, two of the team's top scoring threats. Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer, was suspended 15 games for his role in the brawl at Madison Square Garden between the Knicks and the Nuggets. J.R. Smith, who was taken down on the initial flagrant foul that touched off the fracas, was also suspended 10 games and wont play against the Celtics.

Additionally, each team was fined $500,000 by the NBA.

Rivers said he didn't address the team about the fight, the guys were certainly talking about it on the trip home from Charlotte. And while he wasn't happy about the league's image taking another hit, he did note that fighting is treated much differently than it was back in his playing days.

"Much different, thank goodness, or I'd be poor. I was telling the guys, we had one fight with Indiana, it was a bench-clearing brawl. They cleared out the fight and got everybody to the benches and then they tossed the ball up and we just kept playing."

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