Celtics

Pierce, Garnett defy age with leadership

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Pierce, Garnett defy age with leadership

BOSTON -- There is no age limit on heart and intensity.

Combine Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and you have 71 years plus 31 seasons of NBA experience.

Old? No way. Worn out? Forget it.

On Sunday night, the two veteran leaders totaled 101 minutes, 47 points, 32 rebounds, and 20 assists in the Boston Celtics triple overtime win over the Denver Nuggets. Pierce played the entirety of each overtime while Garnett did for all but just two minutes and 15 seconds. Possession after possession, they pushed their teammates to a grind-it-out victory.

"It forces everybody else to play with the same intensity or even higher," said Jeff Green. "They lead the way and we've got to follow suit."

Garnett and Pierce have been the veteran backbone of the Celtics since "The New Big Three" was established in 2007 along with Ray Allen. But Rajon Rondo's recent season-ending ACL injury has increased the weight carried by the future Hall of Famers. Their production has gone up and they have come through in clutch situations for their short-handed team.

"It's huge," said Jason Terry of their leadership. "It's there every night regardless if we're up 20, they lead the same way, by example. P's a little more vocal than KG on the court in games, but for the most part, guys just follow their example. I think everybody feeds off of it, especially the younger guys that hadn't been through as many battles or been in tough, close triple-overtime games."

It doesn't matter how long a player has been in the league for them to be influenced by Garnett and Pierce. Both Courtney Lee (four years) and Brandon Bass (seven years) are pushed by their intensity.

"They're showing us and leading by example," said Lee. "We've got to follow in their footsteps."

Said Bass, "Those are Hall of Famers, they're great. It's an honor for me to play with them and to be a part of this. It definitely makes you dream to one day play like that. They're huge like that, night in and night out. When you look at them and you see them going hard, it makes you want to go hard or even harder."

Even those who have played with hundreds of teammates in the past are still impressed by the ageless focus of Garnett and Pierce.

"The warriors that we have in Kevin and Paul, they don't know the meaning of the word quit," said 11-year veteran Jason Collins. "They just keep fighting and keep making plays. All of us, every single person in this locker room feels that we can compete with anyone in this league. When Paul's out there going for triple-doubles and KG's hitting shots and letting people know out there that it's his shots, all of us are just playing with a lot of confidence from that and we have to keep it going."

Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

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Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

PHILADELPHIA --  Only hours removed from surgery to repair a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibia injury, Gordon Hayward’s agent tells NBC Sports Boston that his client is already attacking the rehab process.
 
“We expect him to have a full recovery,” agent Mark Bartelstein said via phone Thursday.
 
That said, Bartelstein also noted that it’s unlikely that the 6-foot-8 forward will return to action this season.
 
“We don’t have a timetable or anything like that for him,” Bartelstein said. “It’s about getting better, healthier every day.”
 
The Celtics released a statement Thursday afternoon indicating Hayward underwent successful “bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle.”
 
Performing the surgery was Drs. Mark Slovenkai and Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital, with Dr. Anthony Schena assisting followed by consultations with Dr. David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
 
Hayward suffered the injury in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday when he was attempting to catch a lob pass from Kyrie Irving.
 
On the play, Hayward landed awkwardly on his ankle, which contorted in a way where it was clear immediately that he would be out of action for a significant amount of time.
 
Since the injury, Hayward has received an amazing amount of outpouring of well-wishes and prayers from Kobe Bryant, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and a cast of other current and former athletes. Both Edelman and Gronkowski know all too well about the challenges associated with returning to play after an injury.
 
"Go into rehab just like you go into anything else: dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you’re 100 percent. He wouldn’t be where he is now if he wasn’t a hard worker.”
 
And then there are the Celtics fans, whose support has been impressive.
 
Hayward delivered a pre-recorded message to the fans at the TD Garden that was aired on the Jumbotron high above half court prior to Wednesday night’s game against Milwaukee. Even after the video ended, there was no escaping Hayward’s presence was still very much in the building and on the minds of fans.
 
At one point in the 108-100 Celtics loss on Wednesday, Boston fans began a “Gor-don Hay-ward!” chant that soon swept its way throughout the TD Garden.
 
“It has been a bit overwhelming the amount of support that Gordon has received,” Bartelstein said. “It touched him in so many ways. The outpouring he got, certainly all the fans in the arena last night, from players around the league … it meant the world to him. And obviously, going through something like this, it’s devastating. So, to see so many reach out to him, it means the world to him and his family; there’s no doubt about it.”