Last night at the Garden, Paul Pierce turned back the clock and dropped 40 points on the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was the 21st 40-point outing of his career the 24th if you count the playoffs but I was surprised by how rarely it's happened over the last few years.
Do you realize that last night was only Pierce's third 40-point game since 2006?
Most recently, he had 43 in a loss to the Knicks last April. Before that, there was the 41 he dropped on LeBron in Game 7 of the 2008 playoffs.
Before that? You have to go all the way back to February 15, 2006 (against Cleveland again) for his last 40-point game. That feels like a long time. That is a long time.
And I guess that's just what happens when players get older. Unless you're Kobe or Jordan, the ability andor need to dominate just isn't what it used to be and the 40-point performances slowly start to disappear. And that's certainly been the case with Paul.
But with that being said, I don't know if we can call last night a throwback Paul Pierce performance. I don't think should make reference to him "turning back the clock" (even though I already did). That's because, in reality, this wasn't 23-year-old Pierce dropping an all around 40-point frenzy on an unsuspecting opponent (like he did EIGHT times during the 2000-01 season), instead this was 2012 Pierce older, wiser, more crafty and methodical.
Last night, Pierce attempted only 16 shots, which is the fewest he's ever had in a 40-point game. He attempted eight free throws, which is the second fewest he's ever had in a 40 point game. His six three-pointers were the most he's ever made in a 40-point game. Lastly, last night was only the fourth time that Pierce has scored 40 in fewer than 40 minutes, and he's never done it in fewer than the 34 minutes he played last night.
That's not old school. That's just school.
That's Pierce's game these says.
And last night it was better than ever.