Despite Drought, West, Celtics Stayed Loose
BOSTON - Delonte West likes to name his shots. He's got one he calls "Cookies".
So has he named his buzzer-beating overtime gamewinner that downed the Charlotte Bobcats 110-108 on Wednesday night?
"That's called the 'Get the Monkey Off Your Back' shot," said West, who didn't have the greatest night offensively (3-10 FGs, 7 points) but came through in the clutch when it mattered most.
If there was indeed a monkey on the Celtics' collective back, they did a great job of hiding it this week. Just like the two days of practice preceding Wednesday's game, the locker room was pretty loose before the Celtics' win over the Bobcats.
"That's a credit to the coaches. They never panicked," said Wally Szczerbiak, who scored 20 of his 35 points in the third quarter while all but single-handedly rallying the Celtics to a 37-25 third quarter run. "Doc is just so much fun to play for. He's just an amazing coach and I'll go to war for him any day of the year, any day of the week. He's done a great job of preparing us and it's up to us to perform in the games more."
Performing for the Celtics means executing at the end of games, something they failed to do in their three losses, and even in the last 1:26 of regulation Wednesday, as they blew a 99-91 lead. They also managed to turn the ball over 25 times.
Clearly, there's work to be done, but the team seems to have a grasp on what needs fixing, and sometimes that's half the battle.
"We know what we have here," West said. "The biggest disappointment is not that we've been losing, but that we've been losing by not playing our game."
In his pre-game, post-soup media session at his locker, Paul Pierce talked about the team needing some desperation and wanting them to play like they were in a one-game playoff. And as it would turn out, the contest felt like a playoff game in the fourth quarter and overtime, ending with the ball in Pierce's hands. He made his move to the hole but kicked it out to West for the gamewinner.
"In past years, I probably would have tried to go up over three people and maybe take a bad shot," said Pierce. "I just want to trust my teammates. That's what the better players in the league do, they trust their teammates because you cant always do it yourself, and Delonte was there to bail me out."
The shot not only bailed out Pierce but boosted the confidence of West, who's been understandably inconsistent since the season started while battling injuries and trying to transition into a shooting guard role, only to find himself back in the saddle as a point guard Wednesday.
"I've just got to build on it from there," said West. "I've just got to stop thinking so much and let the jumpers roll."