at New Jersey

Saturday, 8

Comcast SportsNet

WWRC-1260 The Washington Wizards decided not to rush back second-year point guard Steve Blake for yesterday's game against the Boston Celtics. Blake practiced in full for the first time Tuesday after spending two months rehabbing a surgically repaired right ankle.

Blake said he was ready and didn't experience any discomfort after the morning shoot-around, but the Wizards held him back for precautionary reasons.

"We think we'll wait until Saturday [against New Jersey]. He'll get two practices under his belt. He might be ready," Coach Eddie Jordan said, "but I want to make sure." . . .

Celtics guard Delonte West, a high school standout at Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt, used to watch the Washington Bullets play. "I was like, man. That was always my dream -- to be in the NBA," he said.

West returned home for the first time as an NBA player -- except he wasn't in uniform at MCI Center. West has been on the injured list with a broken right thumb (on his non-shooting hand) since the season began. He recently had his cast removed. "I can't be upset because it's a long season," West said. "Most important thing now is to be healthy, not impress the home town." He requested 23 tickets for family and friends. . . .

Jordan used his fifth starting lineup, inserting 6-foot-11 Jared Jeffries in the small forward position last filled by Jarvis Hayes. Jeffries had seven points, five rebounds and two assists against Dallas on Sunday. . . .

If the Wizards want to make a run, the next seven games are a good time to do it. They will play the New Jersey Nets twice, the Toronto Raptors twice, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago, teams with a combined record of 12-23 entering action yesterday. . . .

Celtics Coach Doc Rivers's son, Jeremiah, joined his father in Washington yesterday to make an official visit at Georgetown University. He is a highly touted high school junior point guard in Florida.

-- Michael Lee