Pierce does talking on court, not after game

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Pierce does talking on court, not after game

BOSTON Paul Pierce was in no mood to talk with the media, despite the Boston Celtics finally snapping a five-game losing streak with a 96-73 thumping of the Toronto Raptors.

Looking at the kind of night Pierce had, not providing the media with his take on the game would turn out to be one of the few assists Pierce did not make.

It was role-reversal time for him and Rajon Rondo, the team's usual playmaker who had 21 points and just two assists -- a season low for him.

Meanwhile, Pierce had eight points to go with a game-high seven assists.

Rivers was pleased with Pierce's entire game. But there was one play in the third quarter that stuck out.

With the C's up 46-40, Pierce had a wide open look at the basket. Rather than shoot, Pierce instead set up Ray Allen for a 3-pointer -- Allen's first made shot of the night.

"Paul clearly had the shot off the pick and roll," Rivers said. "And he held it long enough for Ray to (get) open and gave Ray a three."

Those are the little plays, the intangible plays that the C's need more of moving forward.

"Ray clearly appreciated that," Rivers said. "Paul knew what he was doing. I didn't; I wanted him to shoot when he came off it. But then when you saw what he was trying to do, it was just -- those little things, man, they really help team building."

And team-building -- or re-building, depending on how you look at it -- has been a topic of conversation following a Yahoo! Sports report that teams were calling the Celtics to see if Pierce was available.

Rajon Rondo can relate to being the subject of trade rumors.

"I was a couple months ago," he said. "It's part of it. I don't think no one is safe until the actual trade deadline is over."

Regardless of what they hear, Pierce's place with the team remains the same.

"He's still our leader. He's the Captain," Rondo said.

And part of that leadership from Pierce as well as the rest of the veterans, doesn't allow for trade rumors to impact the overall product on the floor.

"We're very focused on what we have in our locker room," Rondo said. "We believe in each other."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics-Magic close at the half

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics-Magic close at the half

Playing without Isaiah Thomas for the first time this season, the Boston Celtics managed to keep the game relatively close with Orlando and went into the half trailing 50-49.
 
Orlando led for the entire first quarter, only for the Celtics to go ahead 28-27 behind a dunk by Jaylen Brown just 47 seconds into the second quarter. 
 
Neither team led by more than five points for the rest of the half. 
 
The Celtics were playing without Thomas (right groin) who leads the team in scoring (26.0) and assists (6.2) this season. 
 
Replacing him in the starting lineup was Marcus Smart who has five previous starts this season, but each came at the small forward position while Wednesday’s start came at the point.
 
One of the big concerns the Celtics had coming in was how they would hold their own against the Magic’s beefy, physical frontline that includes Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic. 
 
At the half, the Celtics were in a 19-all tie on the boards and actually had a 10-7 advantage in second-chance points.
 
Here are the Stars, Studs and duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game.
 
 
STARS

 
D.J. Augustin

The Magic point guard got hot at the end of the second quarter, finishing the half with a pair of 3’s that were part of a 15-point first half.
 
Avery Bradley

With no Thomas, there was need for Bradley to step up and deliver more offensively. He led the Celtics with 12 first-half points on 4-for-8 shooting.
 

STUDS
 
Evan Fournier

His shot-making at the start of the game was a big key for the Magic, finishing with 10 first-half points (all in the first quarter) to go with four assists.
 
Marcus Smart

He’s not going to score like Isaiah Thomas, but Smart can knock down open looks when they come his way. He had nine points in first half on 3-for-4 shooting.
 

DUDS

Boston 3-point shooting

The Celtics were brutal from 3-point range in the first half, missing 13 of their 14 3-point attempts. Making matter worst, Orlando was a near-perfect 8-for-10 from 3-point range.