DALLAS -- For the rest of the season, including the postseason, Mavericks guard Delonte West said he will continue to tape his formerly mangled right ring finger to his middle finger and then heavily wrap both fingers around a layer of protective padding.
"It's kind of uncomfortable, but I've got to do what I got to do," West said following Wednesday morning's shootaround. "Whether they [doctors] say or not, I’m definitely wearing it, you better believe it."
That's because in the two games he's played and during the minimal practice time he's had since returning from the fractured finger and subsequent surgery, the finger has already been hit, swiped at and fallen on enough times for him to realize that any time the still-healing digit gets touched he feels the sting of hundreds of tiny needles to the bone.
"I’m very conscious," West said of his finger and his surroundings. "The day before the Clippers game I actually hit my hand pretty good in practice so I came into the game with a sore hand. It’s something I’m very conscious of right now and it’s getting better as time goes on. Every time I get close to that rim or cutting through, I’m conscious of guys sniping down or anything like that. But I said once you’re out there, no excuses. If you got an injury or something that’s holding you back then don’t play."
West is thrust into a difficult spot as the Mavs' starting point guard, replacing Jason Kidd, who is out at least the rest of this week with a strained right groin, his third injury of the season.
West said at least he's not right-handed. If he were, he said he couldn't play. As it is, he's effectively reduced to using only his left hand, a tough deal for a player responsible for handling the ball more than anyone else.
"I’m not 100 percent confident in handling the basketball right now with my right hand," West said. "I’m making passes with the right, when I do they come off kind of weak. That’s something I’m getting stronger day by day. Like I said, that’s not something I’m using as a crutch."
No crutches, but the padding and tape job will have to stay.