Pierce feeling better with 31 points vs. Nets


Pierce feeling better with 31 points vs. Nets

By JessicaCamerato

BOSTON -- Looking back, Paul Pierce knew he wasnt going to be effective against the Miami Heat last Sunday. His one-point performance was disappointing, but not completely surprising.

Pierce was playing with a sore left foot and sprained right hand. Even though he was banged up, he couldnt resist the urge to help his team win.

It definitely bothers me, especially when I know I m not right, he said following Wednesdays 94-80 win over the New Jersey Nets. I told coach Doc Rivers I wasnt right, but I was playing through it. I knew I couldnt make a shot (laughs). It definitely bothers me, especially if Im out there trying to help my team win. Maybe next time Ill sit the game but its hard for me to sit, especially when my team is out there trying to win.

After two days rest -- and MRIs that yielded negative results -- Pierce was back at it again. This time, however, the end result was much different.

Pierce scored a game-high 31 points against the Nets, just two points shy of his season-high. He shot 10-for-18 from the field (compared to 0-for-10 against the Heat) and 10-for-13 from the free-throw line.

The performance has Pierce optimistic for further healing during the All-Star Break.

I felt better, he said. That was the main key -- getting some of my health back. This is a much-needed weekend (All-Star Weekend) for me, I think, just to get back healthy and some of the little nagging injuries that I have been dealing with the last few days. Its a good start heading into a direction for the better.

In spite of playing through pain, Pierce has proceeded with caution dealing with this injury. He seriously injured the same foot in the past and did not want to cause further problems.

When I had the situation a few years back when I broke my foot it was the same type of situation - some pain in my foot just walking around on it, he said. So I just really wanted to make sure I wasnt doing any further damage to it. Its getting better, I just got a bruise on the end of my foot.

Pierce was pleased he was able to cut more on Wednesday than he could on Sunday, and although he still felt some discomfort, he was looked forward to getting better with a few days off.

Its still a little bit of pain, he admitted. I think I feel it more now after the game than during the game because I think my adrenaline was really flowing. These few days of rest, the last few days, its gotten better so hopefully these next few days of rest will make it even better.

The Celtics continued to put their trust in their captain, who came through with a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter after missing his first four attempts. With a tight game down the stretch, they knew they could rely on him.

Hes back, said Rivers. Great players, they dont have a lot of back-to-back games, so that was terrific.

Pierce will compete in the Three-Point Shootout and play in the All-Star Game this weekend in Los Angeles. Nagging injuries aside, Pierce is confident about his chances at defending his title in the contest, even up against teammate and 3-point record holder, Ray Allen.

I only have one prediction, Pierce said. You all know.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.