Pierce provides spark in return

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Pierce provides spark in return

BOSTON The return of Paul Pierce was sure to provide a lift to the Boston Celtics' offense.

But as impressive as Pierce the scorer can be, it's his all-around game that sets him apart from the masses.

And it was that all-around game that helped propel the Celtics to a 96-85 win over the Detroit Pistons, the C's first victory of the season.

Pierce, who had missed the first three games with a right heel injury, had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists while playing just under 23 minutes.

Having had one practice prior to playing on Friday, no one had any idea what to expect from Pierce against the winless Pistons (0-3).

"I was expecting to be me," Pierce said. "I don't settle for anything less. Doc Rivers wanted me to be aggressive and play the way I play. That's what I tried to do."

Indeed, Pierce's ability to hold his own defensively, help out on the boards and at times, become a scoring threat, was just what the struggling Celtics (1-3) needed.

"Having Paul back was a huge boost for us," said Kevin Garnett. "He gave everybody a little extra lift. When you see one of your best players out there . . . it was a great, emotional boost for us."

Rivers likes the spacing that having Pierce on the floor, provides his team.

"The space is so different," Rivers said. "I felt bad because I took Detroit head coach and former Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank out to dinner last night. He said, 'Is Paul playing? I said, 'No, there's no chance.' "

You could sense that Pierce was getting closer to returning to action sooner rather than later.

His workouts in recent days were picking up, with less and less soreness afterward.

When asked about how the heel felt following Friday's game, Pierce said, "The rest of my body is sore, more than anything; being I haven't had any physical contact or any up and down basketball in quite a while."

Even though Rivers had told Frank that Pierce wasn't playing, Frank wasn't caught by surprise in how Pierce performed despite limited prep time.

"Paul changes the game for them," Frank said. "Regardless, I know he's only practiced once this whole year, but you just know what he's capable of doing. He's an outstanding defender as well."

And it is that complete game that will only improve as Pierce continues to get back into the flow of playing regularly.

"It's going to take me a little time," Pierce said. "Just to get back into pretty good game shape; the shape that I want to be in to play at the level that I want to play at. It'll come."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this. 

The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent. 

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“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game.  “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”

And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics. 

There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan. 

“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot. 

The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward. 

Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.

For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with. 

“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”

In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well. 

Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards. 

“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said. 

Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury. 

Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.

“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”