Ever since Delonte West was a rookie, Doc Rivers worried the guard would hurt himself out of sheer competitiveness.

But the Celtics coach learned to accept the inevitable where his backup point guard is concerned. Just as you can't afford to dilute Kevin Garnett's effectiveness by asking him to calm down, you can't ask West to avoid running through that next wall.

"Well, he may," Rivers said of the prospect that West, after suffering a broken wrist and severely sprained ankle this season, could do more harm to himself.

"I don't want him to change. It's just how he plays. I don't think you could get him to change if you wanted him to change. He's just extremely competitive, and he'll put himself in harm's way, and he's going to do it even if he's injured. That's why everyone loves him."

This morning, love may be the least of it. West, in only his 11th game of the season and his third since returning from an eight-game absence due to that sprained ankle, took control of the offense in Saturday night's win in New Orleans. Rajon Rondo jammed his pinkie with 7:11 to go in the third quarter and was given time to get feeling back in his shooting hand. He didn't return until the last 6:11 of the game. By then, West had helped drive a comeback from a 15-point hole.

He shot 4-for-5 for his nine points and added five assists, but the sharpness of his game is what most have found surprising, though not all.