The rundown (a quick look at postgame headlines)
WEST SUFFERS 'MINOR' SETBACK AFTER PROVIDING SPARK
Celtics guard Delonte West left Thursday's game in the third quarter after experiencing discomfort in his lower back.
West, who sat out Monday's practice session due to back spasms, reiterated that the injury is minor and didn't seem overly concerned about it. The back tightened up at halftime after West sparked a second-quarter offensive outburst that jump-started Boston's rally.
"I came in at halftime and felt my lower back pinching," said West. "It's real minor, but the muscle back there was tightening up and I think the tension was pinching the nerve, maybe. It was real uncomfortable. You saw me out there stretching before I went in for the third quarter, I just couldn't move the way I wanted to. It's just precautionary... I got it massaged up and a little ice. Nothing to worry about."
Added Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who has exercised heightened caution with all his players this preseason, "It wasn't bad, but I'm not going to take any chances."
Before the back flared up, West connected on four straight shots in the second quarter to spark a 37-point outburst in the frame, and finished with 12 points, a team-high six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block over 18 minutes.
"I’m a jack of all trades," said West. "I don’t do anything great, but I do a lot of things good. Tonight we needed someone to put the ball in the hole."
WAFER HAVING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES AMIDST ROSTER BATTLE
Celtics guard Von Wafer picked up his second technical foul in as many nights after flapping his gums at the officials in the fourth quarter.
Wafer, whose contract is not fully guaranteed and who has admitted he's in a dogfight for a final roster spot, has done little to distinguish himself on the court (other than wearing a pair of Rondo's bright green Nike shoes). He played for more than nine minutes Thursday and did not put up a single shot, not exactly what the Celtics are looking for from a player whose biggest attribute is supposed to be his scoring.
The technical fouls, especially at what turned out to be a critical juncture in the game, didn't help his cause.
"I don't love [Wafer's technicals]," said a clearly peeved Rivers. "I’m just going to stop there."
Fortunately for Wafer, his fellow competition did little to take advantage of his lapses Thursday. Mario West assisted on Marquis Daniels' winning 3-pointer, but committed an uncharacteristic foul going for a steal soon after that nearly let the Nets back into the game in the final moments. Stephane Lasme, who served notice that he won't go quietly in the battle for roster spot No. 15 by scoring 12 points in seven electrifying minutes on Wednesday, missed all three shots he took over 6:28, but continues to play solid defense and could push the others moving forward.
LOOSE BALLS: DOC PRAISES LOPEZ; GUARDS ON GLASS; TRAVEL WOES
* Rivers went out of his way to praise Nets center Brook Lopez, even if it came at the cost of Shaquille O'Neal. "Brook is going to be great," said Rivers. "Right now, he's the picture of this team; he's the guy. Talks, plays hard, even I enjoyed the Shaq-Brook little thing. Shaq scored on Brook, then Brook went right back down [and scored on Shaq]. I actually enjoyed that; I like seeing young guys do that. He wasn't on my team, but nice to see."
* Wafer wasn't the only Celtics player to draw a technical foul against the Nets. Paul Pierce got tagged in the first quarter after an "air punch" following a foul call (such gestures are one of the new areas that referees are trying to crack down on this season under updated technical foul guidelines). Nate Robinson yapped too much about a call in the second quarter and also got a technical, but quickly chased down referee Steve Javie to apologize, recognizing he needed to clam up.
* The Celtics were plotting a fourth technical foul if the game appeared headed to overtime. "We weren't going to allow [overtime]," joked Rivers. "We'd do something about that. We could just get a tech."
* For the second straight game, the Celtics' rebounding was fueled by guards as Delonte West and Pierce each hauled in six caroms. Rivers said he's fine with that happening, as long as those rebounds aren't coming on the offensive glass. "As long as it's the defensive glass. I don't like to see offensive boards with our guards, because if we don't get [the rebound], it's a transition basket for the other team," he said.
My ticket stub back from Philadelphia.* If I can steal a page from Peter King’s playbook, here’s our aggravating travel note of the week (file this under, "If you can't laugh at yourself"): I've never made the trek down to New Jersey via train, but the proximity of Penn Station to the Prudential Center made it an easy choice for this game. That was until I got so caught up in getting some pregame work done that I managed to miss the call for the Newark stop. Not a problem right? It is when you're on the Acela Express. Next stop: Philadelphia, which sounded worse than it turned out to be (about an hour each way). Even still, that added two unintentional hours to the trip. My only excuse: I was practicing for when I actually have to take the train back to Phillly for next week's exhibition game against the 76ers.