Pierce answers the bell with a ringing peformance


Pierce answers the bell with a ringing peformance

BOSTON Doc Rivers was a bit antsy all day, unsure if Paul Pierce was going to play against the Orlando Magic.

Pierce's left big toe has bothered him since he jammed it at New Jersey on Saturday, not to mention that knee to the thigh he took from Tyson Chandler in Tuesday's loss to New York.

Rivers was waiting to hear word from trainer Ed Lacerte as to whether Pierce had contacted him to say if he was going to play or not.

No word.

"Up until when we got here, we didn't know if Paul was going or not," Rivers said. "But we assumed he was because when he didn't respond that means, 'Why are you texting me? I'm fine.' Then he came in and he just played great basketball for us."

That's vintage Paul Pierce, leaving everyone guessing - coaches and opponents alike - as to what his next move will be until he's already done it.

His game certainly kept the Orlando Magic off balance on Wednesday as the C's clinched the Atlantic Division with a 102-98 win.

And it was Pierce leading the way with a game-high 29 points along with a career-high 14 assists.

"He has a good feeling on when to distribute and consolidate the ball," said Kevin Garnett. "And he has a good feel for when to be a lot more aggressive."

With Rajon Rondo (back) out, Pierce knew going into the game that his role would be expanded to include play-maker duties.

No problem.

"Tonight it was in my hands, I got to do a lot of playmaking," Pierce said. "At the end of the day I just wanted to be aggressive, look to score, but when they collapse I just wanted to make the easy pass."

Down the stretch, Pierce showed the ability to hurt the Magic both with his passing and shot-making prowess.

The Celtics ended the third quarter with a 10-0 run that included a much-needed jumper from Brandon Bass - Pierce on the assist - that put the Celtics ahead, 78-70.

And the game's final moments, his 16-foot jumper over former Celtic Glen Davis with 7.6 seconds to play would later prove to be the game-winning points. With 2.9 seconds to play, Pierce made a pair of free throws to ice the victory.

"That's called a good basketball player," Rivers said.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 


Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.


Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.