Pierce, Garnett defy age with leadership

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Pierce, Garnett defy age with leadership

BOSTON -- There is no age limit on heart and intensity.

Combine Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and you have 71 years plus 31 seasons of NBA experience.

Old? No way. Worn out? Forget it.

On Sunday night, the two veteran leaders totaled 101 minutes, 47 points, 32 rebounds, and 20 assists in the Boston Celtics triple overtime win over the Denver Nuggets. Pierce played the entirety of each overtime while Garnett did for all but just two minutes and 15 seconds. Possession after possession, they pushed their teammates to a grind-it-out victory.

"It forces everybody else to play with the same intensity or even higher," said Jeff Green. "They lead the way and we've got to follow suit."

Garnett and Pierce have been the veteran backbone of the Celtics since "The New Big Three" was established in 2007 along with Ray Allen. But Rajon Rondo's recent season-ending ACL injury has increased the weight carried by the future Hall of Famers. Their production has gone up and they have come through in clutch situations for their short-handed team.

"It's huge," said Jason Terry of their leadership. "It's there every night regardless if we're up 20, they lead the same way, by example. P's a little more vocal than KG on the court in games, but for the most part, guys just follow their example. I think everybody feeds off of it, especially the younger guys that hadn't been through as many battles or been in tough, close triple-overtime games."

It doesn't matter how long a player has been in the league for them to be influenced by Garnett and Pierce. Both Courtney Lee (four years) and Brandon Bass (seven years) are pushed by their intensity.

"They're showing us and leading by example," said Lee. "We've got to follow in their footsteps."

Said Bass, "Those are Hall of Famers, they're great. It's an honor for me to play with them and to be a part of this. It definitely makes you dream to one day play like that. They're huge like that, night in and night out. When you look at them and you see them going hard, it makes you want to go hard or even harder."

Even those who have played with hundreds of teammates in the past are still impressed by the ageless focus of Garnett and Pierce.

"The warriors that we have in Kevin and Paul, they don't know the meaning of the word quit," said 11-year veteran Jason Collins. "They just keep fighting and keep making plays. All of us, every single person in this locker room feels that we can compete with anyone in this league. When Paul's out there going for triple-doubles and KG's hitting shots and letting people know out there that it's his shots, all of us are just playing with a lot of confidence from that and we have to keep it going."

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.