BOSTON -- Despite feeling a bit under the weather in recent days, Courtney Lee turned in 17 inspired minutes during Monday night's win over the Bobcats and produced the hustle play of the night in the fourth quarter when he won a track meet down the floor and blocked Hakim Warrick as he went up for a layup.
Lee finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting with the block and a steal.
"It was a big man running down the middle and I know that my feet are a lot faster than his, no offense to him," said Lee. "You don't want to give up on a play, especially a play that you can get back in. So I just play hard the whole time."
When asked where that hustling nature comes from, Lee got a bit heavy with reporters.
"Oh, man, if you really want to get deep to it -- I want you all to hear this, man: You can take it back to just life period," said Lee. "I mean, I didn't have the best childhood, but you continue to fight and I use that same philosophy on the court. Something might not be going right, but you can always give effort. Effort takes no talent."
After struggling to carve out his role at the start of the season, Lee is settling into a nice groove. In seven games this month, Lee is averaging 8.1 points per game on 59 percent shooting overall, which includes shooting 45.5 percent beyond the 3-point arc.
* COLLINS' BIG IMPACT: Even as Chris Wilcox (thumb) nears a return, veteran big man Jason Collins has contributed some solid minutes lately. With rookie big man Jared Sullinger in early foul trouble on Monday, Collins played eight minutes and chipped in three points, four rebounds, and two assists.
"He does it every night," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "He’s Groundhog's Day if there was ever one. He just comes in, he does the same thing: Blocks shots, takes a charge, gets his body in the way. He’s going to bang, he’s prepared; He’s such a pro. It’s just good to have him around."
* WILCOX BACK ON BENCH: Wilcox, sidelined since mid-December with a thumb issue, dressed for Monday's game and was on the active roster, but knew he wasn't going to get in the game (and even resisted the urge to make himself available when Sullinger got early foul trouble). Wilcox said he still wants to get in another practice or two before a potential return to game action. And while it was good to be back on the bench with his teammates, Wilcox admitted it only made him a bit more antsy to get back on the floor. Wilcox was averaging 5.1 points per game in December while shooting a healthy 73.1 percent from the floor before his injury.
* BULLPEN BARBOSA: Rivers elected to go with backup guard Leandro Barbosa over Jason Terry for a late fourth-quarter stretch on Monday. Boston's coach admitted it was simply a gut feeling. "Just a feel, honestly," said Rivers. "I thought we needed energy. And [Barbosa is] always ready. He is terrific. He’s always ready.” Rivers clearly enjoys the luxury of having established veterans like Barbosa and Collins able to contribute in short minutes without worrying about their roles.