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