Pierce plays bigger than the rest in Sunday's win

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Pierce plays bigger than the rest in Sunday's win

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce believes great players step up in close games.
On Sunday afternoon against the New York Knicks, he once again showed why he is one of them.
Pierce led all players in scoring with 34 points (13-23 FG, 4-7 3PG, 4-5 FT), but it was a single bucket that prevented the Celtics from leaving the court with a loss after leading by as many as 15 points.
In a back-and-forth battle with five ties and seven lead changes, the Celtics fought back from a halftime deficit to lead 80-72 entering the fourth quarter. The Knicks, though, were looking to reclaim the game.
They scored 31 points in the fourth and took a 101-100 lead with just under a minute left in regulation. Pierce missed a jumper with 19 seconds left that would have put the Celtics up 102-101. On the next possession, Steve Novak made a pair of free throws to push the Knicks edge to three points.
Trailing 103-100, Kevin Garnett handed the ball off to Pierce at the top of the arc. He pulled up for a three with 4.9 seconds to go and drained the game-tying bucket over rookie Iman Shumpert.
The Celtics went on to win, 115-111, in overtime.
I got to a spot where I like to get the shot off from, Pierce said. Maybe rushed it a little bit, but it felt good coming off my hand. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they dont. But I had another opportunity, another crack at it, and I always say, if at first you dont succeed try again.
Head coach Doc Rivers was not pleased that this team had squandered the lead but in the end, his team came through with the win even if it wasnt always pretty.
Paul made a good shot, he said. I thought that the last play -- really the start of it was the play after that -- it was hully gully or whatever you want to call it. We just told our guys to keep handing it off until somebody got free and Paul made a big shot.
Knicks head coach Mike DAntoni watched Carmelo Anthony give the Knicks the lead less than a minute earlier, and then saw Pierce take it away just as quickly.
I dont know if thats execution, thats having a horseshoe up your rear, he said. Thats what Paul Pierce does, though. He hit a hard shot, thats what he does. Melo hits one, thats what he does. Paul hit one, he hit a dagger. You got to give him credit with that, but theres no execution with that one. Thats just going out and making a shot.
It is never ideal for a player to have to save a game with seconds left on the clock, but after nearly 1,000 contests in the NBA, Pierce doesnt mind it.
I guess theyre better than blowouts, theyre more fun, Pierce said of close games. The great players, they really like to play in these types of games. They like to step up as you saw tonight. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, (Rajon) Rondo, myself, Melo (Carmelo Anthony) hit some big shots. Thats what makes the game of basketball and these type of games versus New York so fun because you always see the great players rise to the finish.

Felger: Bruins have no choice but to overpay for defenseman

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Felger: Bruins have no choice but to overpay for defenseman

Yes, four first-round picks for Jacob Trouba is crazy.

Yes, two firsts and David Pastrnak for Kevin Shattenkirk is stupid.

And, of course, Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson is ridiculous. (Remember Bruins fans: As bad as it's been, it could be worse. Peter Chiarelli could still be here.)

No one is disputing that the asking price for good, young defensemen across the NHL has gone haywire. If you're acquiring one of those players, you are likely going to lose the deal, and that's no way to run a franchise.

But here's the question for the Bruins: What's the alternative? Do the Bruins want to try and win in the Patrice Bergeron window or not?

That's what it comes down to for the B's. Bergeron will turn 31 in three weeks, and while he may have plenty of seasons left, his time as one of the best two-way players in the NHL is certainly more finite. He will likely be out of that elite status by the time anyone currently in the B's system develops into the type of No. 1 defenseman the team so desperately needs -- if there's even anyone who fits that description in the first place.

In other words, if the B's want a top-pairing defenseman anytime soon, they're going to have to pay for it. Or overpay for it. Draft picks. Players. Offer sheets. Whatever. Something unappealing is going to have to go out the door.

If there's another way, I'd like to know what it is. There's virtually nothing to choose from in the unrestricted pool. And everyone on the current depth chart is either too old, too young or too crappy.

So four first-rounders and a $7 million annual cap hit for Trouba? That's an impossible price to wrap your head around, until you consider the alternatives.

Ideally, the B's are using that Jets offer sheet threat as a leverage play, an attempt to create options in hopes the Blues lower their ask on Shattenkirk, or the Ducks lower their price on Cam Fowler. Maybe the B's have been trying to work a trade with the Jets for Trouba himself and are just bringing a hammer to the table. Lower your demands or we'll offer sheet him. Perhaps that offer sheet isn't even a realistic consideration and is nothing more than noise.

I have no idea. The only thing I know is that the B's still stink on D.

The players they have drafted the last few years may not be any good, and if they are it will be a half-decade before they're capable of playing the kind of playoff minutes necessary to contend for a Cup. The Bruins keep saying they want to contend now, which is pretty much impossible given the personnel on the blue line.

So what do they want? To wait for the kids and blow the rest of Bergeron's prime? Or give up an exorbitant price in a deal they'll very likely lose?

I'd probably lean towards the later, but there's really no right answer. It's called Bruins.

Email Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz daily from 2-6 p.m. The simulcast runs on CSN.

OFFSEASON

Report: Durant will be meeting with Celtics on Saturday

Report: Durant will be meeting with Celtics on Saturday

Kevin Durant’s weekend of free agent visits has come into focus on the final day of June.

According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, the Boston Celtics will be meeting with the free agent superstar on Saturday.

After meeting with Durant on Saturday, the Celtics should have a better idea if they will need to waive Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko before Sunday's July 3 deadline. Waiving the duo would create additional salary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another near max-salaried player.