November 3, 2005
Delonte West has been devoted to studying Stephon Marbury and game tape since his days at Saint Joseph's. For that reason, he saw ways to exploit the play of the Knicks' starting point guard, and put that knowledge to work last night as he led the Celtics to a 114-100 victory in the season opener at the TD Banknorth Garden.
In the process, West recorded career highs in rebounds (9), assists (9), and blocks (4) to go with 14 points. Following the example set by West, the Celtics outrebounded the Knicks, 57-41. West appeared to be everywhere and called the performance the best of his young career.
"Just watching film on Marbury, I really wasn't focused too much on his offensive game," said West. "I knew he was a very skilled offensive player. In that same sense, I noticed when the ball goes up, he's usually looking for the quick outlet instead of actually boxing his man out. I kind of took advantage of that. [Going against Marbury] definitely brings the toughness out of you . . . It just gives you notches on your belt. I grew up watching Marbury and I knew all about his [reputation]. It was an honor bumping heads with him."
With his play against the Knicks, West has quieted any lingering debate about whether he was the right man for the starting point guard job. As training camp ended on a high note for Orien Greene , there was some thought that the rookie might soon have a shot at the starting job. Coach Doc Rivers was looking for someone to take the job. West certainly did that last night and enjoyed every moment as a starter.
"Last year at this time, I was sidelined with injuries," said West, who suffered a broken right hand and broken right thumb as a rookie. "It was nice to have my name called out there in front of the home fans with Red [ Auerbach ] in the building and some of our legends. That was memorable for me."
Have a seat
As his teammates readied themselves for the game, rookie Gerald Green changed from workout clothes to dress clothes and prepared for what could be a fairly long stint on the inactive list. Green learned first through the media, then his agent, Byron Irving , that he would watch the opener from the bench. Coach Doc Rivers had yet to talk to Green about the decision, though Irving is Rivers's cousin.
When asked if he could learn the NBA game by watching, Green said, "I can try. I've never really done it before. I'm going to have to do the best I can, make the best of it. I'm a little bummed out. I ain't never really sat before in my life. It's a first. But it's a first for everything. I can use it as motivation."
Rivers will discuss the move with Green, but does not want to further overwhelm the 19-year-old. Green figures Rivers has a lot of other players to worry about besides the ones who won't take the floor.
"Of course, he doesn't understand [being inactive]," said Rivers. "He shouldn't. I hope not. You do talk to him, but he's still not going to be happy about it. But that's OK. It's a grown-up world. It's a competition and he will be a good player someday. We're [addressing it] slowly. One thing I've learned with Gerald is you don't overload him. Just think every second there's things that he has to hear."
Moving toward return
Tony Allen sat beside Green on the bench, inactive as a result of right knee surgery Sept. 13. The second-year guard hopes to return by the end of the month. Allen is riding a stationary bike and doing some light jogging. His lateral movement is not where it needs to be, but Allen expects that to come along shortly. He usually finishes workouts with knee pain, but gets massages to treat it. "It's getting better," said Allen. "I've got five more weeks left, but I think I'll be back practicing in four. But if anything changes, I'm going to do the whole five weeks, a little bit of practice, and I'll be cleared [to play]." In the meantime, Allen will take pride in adhering to the NBA's new dress code. Last night, he impressed with a blue pinstriped suit. Pierce, who declared himself head of the Celtics' unofficial fashion police, approved the outfit. "Yeah, he can sit on the bench," said Pierce . . . In other fashion news, Brian Scalabrine cut his curly red locks to a short buzz. "It's a new season and I've got to start fresh," said Scalabrine. "If I'm making shots, I let it grow. If we're winning, I let it grow." . . . The mayor of Waterbury, Conn., issued a proclamation yesterday congratulating Ryan Gomes as the first Waterbury native to play in the NBA, and wished the rookie good luck . . . Paul Pierce finished with a career-high 24 free throw attempts, making 18. He might have approached a career high in free throws made if not for a few disconcerting misses late in the fourth quarter. "It happens," said Pierce. "It's part of the game." . . . The last time the Celtics won a season-opening game in overtime was Nov. 4, 1988, also against the Knicks, 122-115. None other than Rick Pitino was coaching New York at the time . . . Dan Dickau was the only Celtic who did not take part in the opener, recording a DNP-coach's decision.