West returns to form in return to Garden


By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON - Delonte West had planned out the whole moment. He wouldarrive at TD Garden early, soak in the scenery as he walked to thelocker room, and savor his return as a member of the Boston Celtics.

Thenagain, things don't always go as planned. West pulled up to the arenaSunday with five minutes to spare and had to fast-forward through his fantasy.

"In my mind, I was going to have a slow walk and look around," hetold CSNNE.com before Sunday's game against the Toronto Raptors. "Butit was a little quicker than that. I was running so I didn't get theexperience I wanted."

But the truth is, simply walking into the Celtics locker room isthe experience West has wanted. It's been three years since hestepped on the parquet in green and white, and there is a differentfeeling this time around.

Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Rajon Rondo are still there, butplayers like Gerald Green and Allan Ray have been replaced with the likes ofRay Allen and Shaquille O'Neal. There is no music playing in the lockerroom before the game. Instead, West notices a sense of focus among theteam's boisterous personalities.

"I think when I was here, we had a lot of first- and second-yearplayers here and we weren't really quite understanding what it meant tobe in the Celtics locker room," he said. "I sit in this seat now andappreciate being a part of a team like this. Wearing a Celtics badge islike an honor. It's like you're part of something, part of a fraternity."

West experienced the moment he had been waiting for when he checkedinto the game with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.The crowd greeted him with a loud ovation and a young fan repeatedlycalled out, "C'mon Delonte!" from a distance.

As soon as he stepped on to the court, he was reminded of how cold the building was. Then he remembered another feeling.

"It's tough as an opponent coming in here with the fans," he said. "It was amazing. I had to readjust when I heard all the screams. I'm used to being on the other end of that. When the Celtics go on a run, you know, 'Oh man, here it comes.' But it feels good to be on this side again."

West scored his first points in the second quarter on the type ofmove characteristic of his hustle -- a driving layup resulting in athree-point play. He finished the night with 11 points, 2 rebounds, and2 assists in 25 minutes.

From pressuring the ball to rushing in for a rebound, West did theintangibles that make him valuable to a championship contender, too. Heblocked a pass from Jarrett Jack with 30 seconds to go to prevent theRaptors from closing in on the Celtics lead.

Three years after his last game in a Celtics uniform at theGarden, West looked like the same player the team had a tough timeparting with.

He appreciates the fact that the Garden looked the same to him, too.

"Not too much changed, and that's what I love about Boston. It's not so big into all the luxuries and all the extra things. It's about whats happening on the floor, that's it," he said, later adding, "Some time has passed, some faces have changed, but the goal is still there. It's to win."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato

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