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Daniels fueled by adrenaline in return

02.07.10 at 6:58 pm ET
By
Marquis Daniels (AP)

Marquis Daniels (AP)

All along, Marquis Daniels has said he didn’t want to play with any fear when he returned from his thumb injury.

More than two months have passed since Daniels underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. On Sunday against the Magic, he stayed true to his word.

Daniels was greeted by a standing ovation when he made his debut with 4.3 seconds left in the first quarter — “I appreciate that,” he said. “Thank ya’ll. Thank you everybody.”

Doc Rivers told Daniels he was looking for him to be aggressive, and Daniels listened. He shook off a careless foul he committed as Mickael Pietrus shot a 3, and had confidence in his own shot. He knocked down his first attempt (a turnaround jumper) just 46 seconds into the second quarter.

“It’s always a good feeling to make your first shot,” he said with a laugh. “The basket started looking wider, so it was just a good feeling just to make the first one.”

In the following two minutes, Daniels hit a pull-up jumper and another turnaround jump shot. He scored six points in seven minutes the first half.

Daniels played another five minutes in the second half to finish the game with eight points (4-of-7 FG), three rebounds, and a steal. He also stayed whistle-free after fouling Pietrus.

“I just wanted to come out and play,” he said. “I didn’t really have any expectations for myself. I just wanted to come out and just play my hardest and give it my all.”

Now that the first game is out of the way, Daniels will continue to improve his conditioning on the court. He admitted all 12 of his minutes were fueled by adrenaline.

But just the fact that he played 12 minutes was a huge benefit to the Celtics. Daniels’ availability alone gives the first unit, which has been plagued by injuries and extended playing time, the chance for some needed rest.

Take Rajon Rondo as an example. He played 36 minutes on Sunday compared to 44 against both the Heat and the Nets last week. Rondo was happy to have Daniels back after an absence that felt longer to him than it actually was.

“He played terrific for us. We didn’t expect him to play that well tonight, especially being gone nine months. I joked about it with him on the bench, being gone so long,” Rondo said. “But we definitely missed ‘Quis and we’re glad he’s back now. Hopefully he can stay healthy. He gave us a big lift tonight off the bench, especially exploiting mismatches with the backups that they brought in. We’re just going to continue to get him healthy, and the same thing for our team as a whole.”

Daniels missed a total of 28 games with his thumb injury. The Celtics were 16-12 during that stretch.

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