Pierce, Garnett defy age with leadership

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Pierce, Garnett defy age with leadership

BOSTON -- There is no age limit on heart and intensity.

Combine Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and you have 71 years plus 31 seasons of NBA experience.

Old? No way. Worn out? Forget it.

On Sunday night, the two veteran leaders totaled 101 minutes, 47 points, 32 rebounds, and 20 assists in the Boston Celtics triple overtime win over the Denver Nuggets. Pierce played the entirety of each overtime while Garnett did for all but just two minutes and 15 seconds. Possession after possession, they pushed their teammates to a grind-it-out victory.

"It forces everybody else to play with the same intensity or even higher," said Jeff Green. "They lead the way and we've got to follow suit."

Garnett and Pierce have been the veteran backbone of the Celtics since "The New Big Three" was established in 2007 along with Ray Allen. But Rajon Rondo's recent season-ending ACL injury has increased the weight carried by the future Hall of Famers. Their production has gone up and they have come through in clutch situations for their short-handed team.

"It's huge," said Jason Terry of their leadership. "It's there every night regardless if we're up 20, they lead the same way, by example. P's a little more vocal than KG on the court in games, but for the most part, guys just follow their example. I think everybody feeds off of it, especially the younger guys that hadn't been through as many battles or been in tough, close triple-overtime games."

It doesn't matter how long a player has been in the league for them to be influenced by Garnett and Pierce. Both Courtney Lee (four years) and Brandon Bass (seven years) are pushed by their intensity.

"They're showing us and leading by example," said Lee. "We've got to follow in their footsteps."

Said Bass, "Those are Hall of Famers, they're great. It's an honor for me to play with them and to be a part of this. It definitely makes you dream to one day play like that. They're huge like that, night in and night out. When you look at them and you see them going hard, it makes you want to go hard or even harder."

Even those who have played with hundreds of teammates in the past are still impressed by the ageless focus of Garnett and Pierce.

"The warriors that we have in Kevin and Paul, they don't know the meaning of the word quit," said 11-year veteran Jason Collins. "They just keep fighting and keep making plays. All of us, every single person in this locker room feels that we can compete with anyone in this league. When Paul's out there going for triple-doubles and KG's hitting shots and letting people know out there that it's his shots, all of us are just playing with a lot of confidence from that and we have to keep it going."

Five reasons standing pat may be Celtics' best move

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Five reasons standing pat may be Celtics' best move

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Report: Pacers taking offers for Paul George

Report: Pacers taking offers for Paul George

In a good example of both strong reporting and stating the obvious, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Wednesday that the Pacers are “gauging the trade market on All-Star forward Paul George.”

The only team mentioned in Wojnarowski’s piece as a suitor via trade is the Celtics. Wojnarowski writes that if the Pacers trade the 26-year-old George to Boston, they might be motivated to do it sooner to make sure the C’s don’t move those assets to Chicago for Jimmy Butler first. 

Writes Wojnarowski: 

The Pacers are working the trade deadline on parallel fronts: Pursuing deals that will bring talent into Indiana to sell George on signing a long-term extension -- and soliciting deal offers on George that would signal a rebuild around center Myles Turner, league sources told The Vertical.

Ultimately, the Pacers will have to evaluate the two paths and make a decision before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline. There’s no urgency to make a deal for George, unless the Pacers fear the Boston Celtics could ultimately provide Indiana the best possible package of assets in a deal -- and think that option could disappear if Boston makes a deal with Chicago for Jimmy Butler.

A 6-foot-9 small forward, George is averaging 22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season. 

George’s contract expires after the 2017-18 season, which is also when Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart will be due for new contracts. Wojnarowski writes that trading for the California native would put the team at risk of potentially losing him as a free agent to the Lakers. 

Teams trading for George run the risk of losing the four-time All-Star to a Lakers franchise that will have the salary-cap space to sign him in 2018. The Lakers’ hiring of Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations will be an interesting twist to George’s free-agent recruitment, given that Johnson has been something of a George family icon going back to George’s childhood in nearby Palmdale, Calif.