Rogers Makes Immediate Impact

February 28, 2002

Rodney Rogers didn't need nine years of NBA experience to figure out playing time behind Antoine Walker would be limited. But in the Celtics' 95-92 loss last night to the Bucks, the newcomer had 16 minutes to make a positive impression; he scored 5 of his 9 points in the fourth quarter. In fact, Rogers and Walker appear to have eerily similar games. Rogers, who saw time at both center and power forward last night, went inside for a layup early in the fourth, then hit a 3-pointer that gave Boston its only lead in the final quarter.

"When you're in there, you've got to try to be productive for the team," said Rogers. "I was glad he [coach Jim O'Brien] gave me a chance to play the 5. I don't feel tentative at all when coach tells you, 'You've got to go out and play. We're going to run plays for you. We want you to score.' "

   Once Rogers gets more familiar with the offensive and defensive schemes, he has every intention of becoming an "impact player." He's already on record as wanting to stay in Boston, refusing to worry about his free agent status until after the season. But for the Celtics' sake, it's too bad Rogers did not cram in more small forward knowledge during his first few days as a member of the team. In the past, he's caused trouble for the Bucks at that position.

"Don't tell Jimmy this, but Rodney Rogers has killed us in last four or five games he's played against us, especially when he plays at small forward," said Milwaukee coach George Karl.

Tony Delk's debut in Boston was a little less successful, though the Celtics looked to get him involved in the offense early and often. (He took the first shot of the game.) Delk finished with 4 points (1 for 8), which is not exactly what you want from a veteran expected to serve as your third scorer.

"It's going to come," said Delk, who needed a stitch in his chin for a cut that came from a Sam Cassell elbow. "It's just a matter of me making shots. I'm excited about the position I'm in and the opportunity I'm going to get to play here, to get those looks. I've just got to make them." Heal thyself

The official diagnosis of trainer Ed Lacerte by trainer Ed Lacerte was a small abrasion to the lower left calf after Walker barreled into him while chasing a ball headed out of bounds. Walker crashed into Lacerte, knocking the trainer backward into the team's Gatorade container . . . Words from the wise: Karl figured his veteran team should be able to win the second game of back-to-backs just the way they did last night. "Veteran teams are capable of handling back-to-back," said Karl. "They probably enjoy playing rather than practicing." . . . If the Bucks had beaten the Lakers, Cassell would not have played last night. His sore big toe hurts that much . . . Celtics-Wizards game, which had been slated for NBC March 10, has been pushed back to its original 3 p.m. time slot because of the absence of Michael Jordan, who is injured.

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