Rogers, Delk Nail Down First Win in Green

March 5, 2002

PHILADELPHIA - If you think staying up late to watch the Phoenix Suns - specifically Joe Johnson, the Celtics' top draft pick last spring - has meant sleepless nights for Boston general manager Chris Wallace, think again.

After the Feb. 20 trade with Phoenix, Johnson got off to a hot start. In his second game, he had 23 points and 11 rebounds, then followed with a 15-point, 8-rebound performance. But his play since has tapered off, as he has shot 3 for 23 in his last three games.

    "I have no buyer's remorse," said Wallace. "I knew things would take a little while to shake out. You're bringing two players into a team and they've got to learn the system offensively and defensively at the three-quarter mark of the season without the benefit of camp. They're learning at shootaround and playing that evening. That's not easy.

"But unfortunately, the NBA schedule does not allow a nice and tidy place for trades. It's not like there's a trade deadline and we all get two weeks off to all practice together and come back."

Last night, the players Wallace got from Phoenix had no trouble fitting in. Tony Delk (12 points) and Rodney Rogers (15 points) complemented the scoring of Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce and played crucial roles in the fourth quarter. Delk was the point guard and Rogers was an inside/outside threat that kept the Philadelphia defense off balance.

The 100-94 win was the first for Delk and Rogers as Celtics.

"We hadn't won any games since the trade, so this was a good one," said Rogers. "It's always great to be in there with the game on the line because you can help be a deciding factor." Walt nuts

The "I Love Waltah" fan club now has members on the road. Walter McCarty played 24 minutes last night, recording 8 points (4 for 5) and 6 rebounds. Late in the game, with each defensive stop or basket by McCarty, a small group of loyalists could be heard shouting, "I love Waltah," imitating the familiar cry of broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn. McCarty did his best work defending the Sixers' smaller guards. "I think it was very effective," said McCarty. "First, it gave me an opportunity to go out there and play. Then, it allowed me to use my quickness and my length. I think it worked out well for us. I was just trying to help out on [Allen] Iverson, not letting him do what he wanted to do." . . . Speaking of Iverson, the MVP campaign has begun. Packets given to media members included a postcard with the message "Greetings from Philadelphia" and a picture of Iverson rising above the First Union Center, his arms outstretched to welcome visitors. On the back is a note from Iverson recalling how great it was to play the All-Star Game in Philadelphia and a list of his accomplishments this season. Iverson had 28 points last night but was only 8 for 30. Ploys of the weak

In case you missed it, Pierce and Walker hosted "Plays of the Week" on ESPN's "SportsCenter" Sunday night, attempting full-court shots and swinging golf clubs and hockey sticks. Pierce said he had never picked up a hockey stick. "You could tell I haven't," he said. "That was awful. I know it was. I was like, 'I'm embarrassing myself.' " Both of them had better stick to their day jobs . . . Dream or nightmare? It didn't depend on who won or lost last night. It was pajama night at the First Union Center and fans were encouraged to dress in their best sleepwear.

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