SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Antoine Walker could hardly wait to be a
Boston Celtic again.
Walker was in Portland with the Atlanta Hawks when he learned he
had been traded back to his old team. He got on the first flight to
Salt Lake City and played Friday night without even practicing with
his new teammates.
Walker knew few of the plays and looked lost at times on
offense, but still had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help the
Celtics outlast the Utah Jazz 109-102.
"It's great to be back," Walker said. "I am excited about the
opportunity to be back and make this work."
Walker quickly resumed his old job as Boston's offensive leader
on the court and led the cheers when he was on the bench.
"Doc (Rivers) made it easy for me," Walker said. "He told the
team we were going to stay away from a lot of sets and keep it
That meant just give the ball to the Walker on the left block
and let him go to work.
"'Toine was great," Rivers said. "You know what's nice with
'Toine is we had somewhere to go in the post."
Ricky Davis dunked to stretch Boston's lead to 103-95 with 3:07
to play, but the Celtics had to survive a rally. Keith McLeod made
a 3-pointer and added a layup with 36 seconds remaining to get the
Jazz within 103-102 before Davis and Mark Blount made six straight
free throws to break the Celtics' three-game road skid.
"It was an amazing win for us. I'm happy for everyone and Mark
made two huge free throws down the stretch," Rivers said.
Davis scored 16 of his 17 points in the second half and Delonte
West followed his career high of 17 at Denver on Wednesday with 16
points and seven rebounds to help the Celtics overcome Paul
Pierce's foul trouble.
But the key was Walker and the new options he brought to an
often stagnant Celtic offense.
"'Toine carried us tonight, offensively," said Pierce, who
scored 15 points in 25 minutes. "Being that I was in foul trouble
all game, that's what we needed. That's why we traded for him."
Walker played his first seven seasons in Boston and paired with
Pierce to lead the team to the 2002 Eastern Conference finals.
Boston got him back Thursday in exchange for Gary Payton, Tom
Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a future first-round draft pick.
"He sure seems glad to be back in the green," West said. "He
came up big for us. We thought he had mismatches down low and he
Andrei Kirilenko scored a season-high 29 points and Matt
Harpring added 18 for the Jazz, who have lost six of their last
"We just seem to find ways to lose games. It's real
frustrating," said Raja Bell.
Harpring's jumper gave the Jazz a 79-72 lead late in the third
quarter before the Celtics took advantage of a flurry of Jazz
errors. Marcus Banks hit a pair of 3-pointers to power a 20-5
Boston run that was capped by West's 3 to beat the shot clock. The
Jazz committed five turnovers and missed three free throws during
the spurt, which lifted the Celtics to a 92-82 lead with 8:12 to
"We just didn't get stops. We had the lead and then they got
easy buckets," McLeod said.
The Celtics, who conclude a four-game road trip at Phoenix on
Monday, shot 53 percent from the field to move one full game ahead
of second-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division. Walker will
play his first game in Boston on Wednesday night against the
Walker suited up in uniform No. 88 instead of the familiar
No. 8 he wore his first time around as a Celtic. Rookie Al
Jefferson wears that number. ... Utah's leading scorer and
rebounder Carlos Boozer missed his third straight game with a
sprained right foot. ... Ricky Davis closed his eyes and yelled
loudly in frustration "I can't make a shot" just before halftime.
He missed his first eight field goals.