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."