Notebook: Pierce battles bone bruise
March, 7, 2013
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- It wasn't a particularly flattering accessory, but Paul Pierce had one leg of his suit pants rolled up and a large ice wrap over his left knee while addressing the media after Wednesday's win over the Indiana Pacers.
Reason for concern?
"Just a little bruise, it happened [Tuesday] night [in Philadelphia]," Pierce said. "I played, so it’s not a problem."
True, but Pierce labored, missing 11 of the 15 shots he put up while posting 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists over 33 minutes, 48 seconds. Then again, the knee didn't hinder him from holding up 6-foot-9, 250-pound David West just long enough for Jeff Green to produce the winning layup in an 83-81 triumph over the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Pierce, Boston's usual final-play target, served as decoy on the decisive set, and his back pick keyed Green's give-and-go with Kevin Garnett for the winning hoop.
"Good things happen when you execute –- being in the right spot, setting the screen," Pierce said. "It showed tonight. Everybody was in the right spot."
Pierce also has battled a pinched nerve in his neck, but a big victory will dull the pain of lingering bumps and bruises.
A handful of postgame notes from Wednesday:
* DEFENSE SPARKED COMEBACK: Masked ever so slightly by Green's late-game offensive heroics was just how good Boston's defense was in the final frame. The Pacers were just 4-of-20 shooting (20 percent) for 13 points. What's more, George Hill scored eight of those points in a 61-second span while trying to fend off a Boston charge. Paul George provided Indiana's only other bucket of the frame. In fact, after George's 3-pointer with 4:36 to play, the Pacers did not score again, missing their final seven shots and turning the ball over three times.
* CRAWFORD BIG IN FOURTH: Jordan Crawford didn't score in the fourth quarter, but he played seven quality minutes to start the frame, allowing the likes of Avery Bradley and Pierce to rest for the late run. Said Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "Jordan Crawford was on the floor when we started our run; he was big for us. I was going to search for any lineup I could find tonight in the second half, because that’s what you felt the game was going to be. It wasn’t going to be a normal [game]. Going into the game, I thought we were going to be big all game. Then we decided, small was better and it worked out for us." Crawford finished with two points on 1-of-4 shooting but was plus-8 over 12:42 of floor time.
* NO COMPLAINTS: Celtics coach Doc Rivers seemed, let's say, displeased with the officiating at times in Wednesday's game (Boston attempted a mere nine free throws compared to 14 for the Pacers). Rivers playfully offered a "Me? That's a first," when asked about his frustration. But he stressed that he actually liked that the referees swallowed the whistles in key situations. "No. 1, it was a physical game," he said. "I actually told one of the refs, I enjoyed what they were doing. I did. I said, 'Listen, you’re letting us play. But just be consistent.’ I was upset the one time, because Jeff got the foul when the guy lost [the ball], and then at the other end, they didn’t call it. I just said, ‘I’m just saying, if we’re going to let guys play, let us play. Just keep it consistent.' I love consistency like that, I do. I love the physical game. I think it’s a good game, I think it’s better for the fans; less whistles, more basketball." Added Jeff Green: "The officials did their job. They made the calls they're supposed to make. We just can't let that bother us. It's a playoff atmosphere, and we've just got to play through it, continue to play our game and not let everything get to us. We can't change a call, so we've just got to continue to play."
* A BAD BREAK: The only bad news of the night for Rivers: His son, Austin, of the New Orleans Hornets, suffered a broken hand in a loss to the Lakers. The injury will sideline him four to six weeks, according to the team.
* ELITE COMPANY FOR KG: Informed he had recently leapfrogged both Hakeem Olajuwon and Wes Unseld to move into 10th place all-time on the NBA's list for career rebounds, Garnett was taken aback by the names on that list. "Oh, man, you serious? Yeah, those are huge names, players I look up to. I'm kind of lost for words. I'm flattered. Hard work does pay off."