Whatever baggage Delonte West dragged with him to the Dallas Mavericks, no matter the Twitter rants he may unleash and regardless of the strange twists that pop up such as Monday's banned/not-banned White House situation, nothing has stopped the intriguing, tattooed guard from delivering steadying performances.
West stepped up big Tuesday night in place of injured point guard Jason Kidd, setting the aggressive tone for the 100-86 victory in which Dallas broke it open by 28 points in the third quarter. West delivered a Kidd-like 10 assists, a high for the Mavs this season, with five steals, giving him 18 on the season, fifth-most in the league.
"He’s incredible," guard Jason Terry said. "His energy, we’ve been feeding off of it; obviously without Jason Kidd. I think that people forget about Delonte’s ability to run the team and play point guard. That’s what he was drafted as and he’s a good one."
It's also what he was brought into Dallas to do -- replace J.J. Barea and run the point behind Kidd . But, that changed in the second half of the season opener when coach Rick Carlisle moved Vince Carter to the bench and slid West over to start at shooting guard.
West is playing about 21 minutes a game and while his shooting percentages remain low (43.5 percent overall and 18.2 from 3-point range) his energy and effort -- particularly on defense -- have remained high, and pleasing to Carlisle.
"It’s not often you have a guy on the floor that goes 9-for-10, but there’s a guy on the floor that’s actually the best player on the court," Carlisle said, first noting Dirk Nowitzki's impressive shooting night. "Delonte was the best player on the court because of his competitiveness. That’s what we need right now. We need consistency as a team competitively and he set a great tone for us the last two games."
West will again start at point guard tonight against his former club, the Boston Celtics. And there's no guarantee that Kidd will be ready for Friday's home game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd was hobbling around the White House on Monday and then returned to Dallas to continue treatment for back spasms in his lower back.
The Mavs pulled to .500 after starting 0-3 by winning five of their last seven. The Celtics also started o-3, but since have Paul Pierce back in the lineup and have won four of five. They'll be well-rested and hungry after suffering a first home loss in their last game back on Friday night.
"For us," West said after Tuesday night's game, "we’re going in there against a team that’s going to try and jump on us, so it’s already forward thinking."