Pierce might be hurt, but it doesn't show

Pierce might be hurt, but it doesn't show
March 2, 2013, 12:15 am
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BOSTON -- Paul Pierce could have been up for an Academy Award last week in the category of best actor for his performance as a seemingly healthy basketball player.

The Celtics captain has been playing with a pinched nerve in his neck and has masked it well. He has no intentions of slowing down, averaging 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in the month of February.

In the Celtics first game in March, Pierce scored a game-high 26 points (9-for-15 from the floor, 7-for-11 from the line), while adding eight rebounds and four assists in their win against the Golden State Warriors.

"He's not hurt, he's fooling ya'll," Courtney Lee joked.

Just the opposite. Pierce has made it look painless, hitting long-range jumpers and attacking the basket. Without guards Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa, he has taken on more ball distribution. Without big man Jared Sullinger, he has become more aggressive on the glass.

"Paul's just picking up his game," said Kevin Garnett. "Doc [Rivers is] stressing rebounding and he's coming in and helping bigs rebound. He's been huge for us right now."

This leave-it-all-on-the-court mentality is making an impression on his teammates. Terrence Williams recently signed with the Celtics and has already taken notice of Pierce's grittiness since joining the team.

"He's don't look hurt to me," said Williams. "Whenever you see him and Ticket [Garnett] playing, you see veteran guys doing what they're supposed to do. So, you can never question if you should do anything because they're already doing it."

Ideally, Rivers could get back on Pierce's minutes as the Celtics approach the playoffs. But with the team still trying to fight their way up the Eastern Conference ladder, Pierce has no desire to sit on the sidelines.

"He's a tough player, he's our leader, he's our captain, and he's doing it through injury," said Lee. "For everybody else looking at him, just follow his lead by example, Whether somebody might be tired or having something nagging, we have one of our best players playing through it. We've got to follow his lead."