BOSTON -- After playing 43 minutes and scoring a game-high 30 points, Paul Pierce assessed his health at 81.6 percent, down from his recent calculation of 83.7.
My hip is bothering me right now, he said, noting that he strained it during the game.
The Celtics captain showed no signs of it late in the C's gritty 91-89 win against the New York Knicks on Friday night at the TD Garden.
Doc Rivers contemplated taking Pierce out earlier in the game, but the determined Celtics captain began hitting a rhythm his coach couldnt ignore. Pierce was getting in the zone, a mindset he slips into when shots seem to come naturally and the basket seems wide open.
I think my concentration level, my focus really goes up later in the game, he said. You think about so many times youve been in this situation before and it almost comes natural, just being there, not really feeling too much of the pressure. You try to relax and play the game and let it come to you. When those shots are there, you try not to rush it. When youve been there so many times, it really comes naturally for me.
Pierce scored a game-high 30 points, including four three-pointers and 10 free throws. His trey with 1:29 left in the third quarter cut the Knicks lead to seven and kicked off a 12-5 run in which the Celtics tied the game in the fourth and took over the lead.
Even though Pierce's three-point attempt with less than 15 seconds to play was reviewed and called a no basket -- I thought it was off my hand before the buzzer went off, but ref made a judgment call. I havent seen the replay, he said -- his energy carried the Celtics through their comeback.
Paul carried us, said Ray Allen. Paul, he was awesome. The couple shots I made, its almost like it was a breath of fresh air for Paul because he was carrying us. And with them, you feel like you stop something theyre doing and then you start getting hit from the other side. It does take the pressure off of Paul and he can continue doing what he does. But also, theyve softened up a little bit because theyre getting attacked from that strong side and they tend to want to help. Kevins getting shots and then I slide in there and Rondos cutting. So its a well-oiled machine for us. Weve just got to make sure we continue to oil it.