Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Wilcox rescues Celtics in no time
By Chris Forsberg ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Chris Wilcox's stat line from Wednesday's overtime win over the Washington Wizards will blend harmlessly into a cluttered box score, much the same way his decision to return to Boston this offseason was overshadowed by the glitzier names the Boston Celtics brought in to overhaul an inconsistent bench.
But while some of those more ballyhooed names struggle early in the 2012-13 season to identify their roles and make an impact on the floor, Wilcox might have been the No. 1 reason that Boston escaped snow-crusted TD Garden with its second straight win of the young campaign.
Chris Wilcox made a big impact in just 3 minutes, 41 seconds, with 6 points, 2 rebounds and a block.
"I thought Chris Wilcox saved the game for us, singlehandedly, with his effort," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "And I thought it was obvious. He didn't do anything but played hard and played with great effort."
Wilcox logged a mere 3 minutes, 41 seconds of floor time, chipping in six points, two rebounds and a block in two energy-filled, second-half shifts that changed the complexion of the game.
Wilcox hit the floor in a tie game with 3:10 to play in the third quarter, and proceeded to do a little bit of everything. First he swatted a Kevin Seraphin jumper, then he forced a turnover that ended with Wilcox finishing an and-one layup in transition off a feed from Rajon Rondo. Wilcox relentlessly attacked the glass and hustled up the floor, and his hard work got him to the charity stripe for five attempts (he made four).
After undergoing season-ending surgery last season to repair an enlarged aorta, Wilcox has talked about starting over. He was just coming into his own in Boston when the heart issue sacked his season in early March. Now, after a summer of rehab, he's just trying to figure out how to be a contributor again. His minutes had been scarce over the first three games of the year.
Expect a spike moving forward.
"Well, we all got roles on this team, man," Wilcox said. "We've all got to be ready. You never know when your number's going to get called, so I just had to go out there and bring energy. That's what [Rivers] told me before I went in the game. He was like, 'We need you to bring energy,' you know what I'm saying? So I just went out there and played hard and great things happened."
Wilcox, who sat out much of training camp and all of the eight-game exhibition season while recovering from a back injury and fine-tuning his conditioning, said he's still far from where he'd like to be. But he smiles wide when he talks about simply being a contributor.
"I'm trying to get back there," Wilcox said. "I'm not 100 percent where I want to be, but I mean, great things like this happen and it's motivation for me to keep going and keep going, so, like I said, I've just got to stay ready so I won't have to get ready."
Later he added, "That's where I was at last year, just at home watching, like, 'Oh, man, I could help here, I could help there.' But tonight, it just helped out my confidence to keep me going and keep me motivated to keep going, and I think this is what I needed tonight."
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Wilcox's energy seemed infectious on the floor. Second-unit leader Jason Terry caught fire in the fourth quarter, chipping in seven of his bench-high 16 points. Brandon Bass, serving in a reserve role, added five of his 11 points in overtime as Boston pulled away.
The significance of Wilcox's brief appearance wasn't lost on Kevin Garnett -- not just in terms of helping Boston win this game, but in the grand scheme of his return to the basketball court after a major health scare.
"I thought Chris played great for us tonight. He gave us great minutes," said Garnett. "For him and Jeff [Green], knowing their story, knowing their journey, it's inspirational, to be honest with everybody here. To see someone still get a chance at doing something that they love, and do it passionately, it's moving.
"I'm just glad he had a great night. He was able to help us, and I thought he changed the game tonight."
All those nights last spring watching the playoffs, that's all Wilcox ever wanted to do, just help his team. On Wednesday night he got his chance and proved just how valuable he can be for the Celtics this season.