LOS ANGELES - The Celtics are gearing up for a final playoff run on their most difficult road swing in years, and they continue to pile up unfortunate injuries and ailments. Reserve power forward Chris Wilcox will be out indefinitely because of a recent heart exam that showed a potential abnormality.
Wilcox, who played Wednesday night against the 76ers, has monthly checkups, and the latest one prevented him from playing Friday night against Portland. The club announced late Saturday night that he did not make the trip to Los Angeles so he could undergo further testing.
The Celtics lost forward Jeff Green for the season after surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.
“It’s not much I can say, they have a bunch of tests to run,’’ coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday’s 97-94 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. “Obviously, team-wise, it’s a hell of a blow for us.
“It’s not a great place. It’s scary, it really is. You think about it, the chances of having one of these [players with heart issues] is pretty minute, the chances of having two is like impossible, and there’s a chance that may happen, so we just have to wait and see.’’
Rivers repeated many of the same thoughts he had when Green’s situation emerged in training camp.
“I always try to look at the human part of it, the fact that if something is wrong, I’d rather find it than not,’’ he said. “So we’re lucky, that’s what I told our team, that we’re very lucky that this happened. Not unlucky. And that’s the way I think you have to look at it.’’
The Celtics will not learn of Wilcox’s fate by Thursday’s trade deadline.
“I don’t think we’ll know for a while, at least for another week,’’ Rivers said. “With Chris’s situation, the tough part about it is we don’t know if he’s going to come back or not and the deadline is coming up. The quicker we find that out, that helps us.’’
Center Jermaine O’Neal has missed the past nine games with a sprained right wrist, but an NBA source said the Celtics are not counting him out for the season yet.
Rivers said the team will try to obtain another big man but won’t sacrifice the future - i.e. its two 2012 first-round draft picks - to acquire one.
The Celtics used Greg Stiemsma for nearly 14 minutes against Lakers big man Andrew Bynum; Stiemsma isn’t completely healthy either. After the game, Stiemsma wore a protective boot on his strained right foot. He said he sustained the injury Friday night, but added that he should be able to return Monday night against the Clippers.
Looks back, ahead
With both teams trying to resurrect their seasons, the fact the game could have been the final one of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry involving the Celtics’ Big Three was overshadowed.
After the game, though, another thrilling contest between legendary foes, the significance of the moment was obvious.
“Especially because it sounds like the Lakers are going to trade [Pau] Gasol,’’ Rivers joked.
“I think both teams know that they have been inconsistent all year,’’ he added. “Both teams also know if they’re both healthy going into the playoffs with the experience they have, anything is possible.’’
Not so peaceful
Paul Pierce and Metta World Peace were assessed technical fouls after mixing it up under the Lakers’ basket with 7:57 left in the third period and the Celtics leading, 53-51.
World Peace and Pierce began shoving each other and World Peace put his forearm into Pierce’s chest. Kevin Garnett responded by pushing World Peace but was spared a technical.
It might have inspired World Peace, who followed that dust-up by scoring 7 of the next 9 Lakers points. He once again burned the Celtics with 14 total points and lockdown defense on Pierce in his 31 minutes, 27 seconds.
When asked if he enjoyed playing against World Peace, who while with the Pacers in 2004 pulled down Pierce’s shorts during a game, Pierce said, “It’s OK,’’ with a wry smile.
Mickael Pietrus returned from a one-game absence because of a sore right knee and scored 5 points on 2-for-7 shooting with three rebounds and a blocked shot in nearly 11 minutes. Pietrus played strong defense against Bryant . . . Keyon Dooling’s difficult season continued. He missed all three shots in nine minutes and is 13 for 52 (25 percent) since returning from a right hip pointer Feb. 12.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.