Mental lapse proves costly for Pierce at free throw line


Mental lapse proves costly for Pierce at free throw line

BROOKLYN, N.Y. Looking up and down the final box score in Boston's 102-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, it's clear that the Celtics' demise was a team-wide calamity.

But few took the defeat any harder than Paul Pierce.

Trailing 95-92 with 43 seconds to play, a defensive switch by the Nets gave Pierce a lane to the basket so he attacked. There was enough contact on the play to warrant the foul called, but not enough to have thrown Pierce's shot off too much.

And there he watched the ball tickle every part of the rim before rolling out.

But here's the other problem besides him missing the shot.

The play was over, time to move on.

Unfortunately for the C's, Pierce did not; mentally at least.

A career 80.8 percent shooter from the line, Pierce missed both free throw attempts.

"I was thinking about the lay-up too much," Pierce acknowledged after the game. "I was real disappointed. It was very unlike me to miss two free throws. I take a lot of blame for down the stretch. I'm the guy they call upon to make the plays. I didn't make the plays tonight."

But Pierce isn't going to make the same mistake with the season that he made with the missed lay-up and dwell on it too long.

As important as it was for him to take ownership of his contributions to the Celtics' loss, it was just as vital for him to embrace the reality that Thursday's defeat was a team loss and not an individual one.

"You can point to a number of little things we talk about all year long," Pierce said. "Execution, defensively we weren't very good."

Especially in the fourth quarter which has typically been one of their best quarters of the season.

The C's gave up 28 points in the quarter which is very unlike the Celtics. And it came on a night when the C's could only muster up 18 fourth-quarter points which is also unusually-low for the C's.

"It's a lot of little things we have to correct," Pierce said.