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.

Countdown to camp: Austin Czarnik


Countdown to camp: Austin Czarnik

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Austin Czarnik.

View the gallery here