Pierce's leadership gets Celtics on track

Pierce's leadership gets Celtics on track
January 6, 2013, 3:59 am
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ATLANTA It figures that it took the words from 'The Truth' to get the Boston Celtics to play the Atlanta Hawks honestly.

Trailing by 15 points at the half, the Celtics found themselves arguing with one another with some players frustrated with some of the words spoken by head coach Doc Rivers about what they needed to do.

"We're kind of bickering with each other at halftime about what to do defensively, and I just reminded the guys that the fight isn't against us, it's against the other team," Pierce said. "Once we remembered that, we stepped up and played the kind of basketball that we're capable of playing."

Pierce challenging his teammates seemed to do the trick as Boston took control in the second half before pulling away for an 89-81 win.

Pierce's team-high 26 points - 17 of which came in the third quarter - was huge, obviously.

But his words at the half had an even bigger impact.

"He was saying, 'this ain't us. Where we at? Where's our grit at?'" C's guard Jason Terry recalled. "'We come out of this locker room, let's show 'em."'

Did they ever.

The Celtics overwhelmed the Hawks with a gritty, physical defense, clutch shots and within minutes, Atlanta was playing catch-up on a night when they had led by as many as 19 points.

Boston played with the kind of defensive fire and intensity that during some tense moments inside the locker room, seemed to be directed at Rivers.

"I told our guys we have to accept coaching," Pierce recalled saying. "Doc was telling us what to do , and guys were getting angry with him, and I told them the ones we need to be getting angry with is the other team."

And Pierce to some degree was angry as well; not at his teammates but at the fact that the Celtics have dug themselves (again) a hole that they will continue to have to fight out of between now and the playoffs.

But the fight becomes a lot easier when they play how they did against Indiana on Friday and in the second half of Saturday's win at Atlanta.

"It's time now," Pierce said. "I'm tired of seeing flashes of it for six minutes here or there, and then take six minutes off. I'm tired of that now. I don't have too much left in the tank as far as my career, so this is it. I feel like the East is wide open, so there is a tremendous opportunity out there for us."