Pierce: I have to keep my composure


Pierce: I have to keep my composure

By A.Sherrod Blakely

MIAMI The NBA is made up of emotional players playing emotional games. NBA playoff games can be especially heated.

At times, those emotions can wrap themselves around the most level-headed of players, and take them for a spin.

Paul Pierce knows this all too well.

The Boston Celtics' captain was tossed in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 99-90 Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday after he was whistled for two technical fouls -- an automatic ejection.

At the time, Pierce didn't agree with the calls. Having had a night to sleep on it, Pierce's feelings haven't changed.

"Referees called what they saw," he said. "I have to do a better job of keeping my composure. That's it."

Pierce will get that opportunity on Tuesday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Boston and Miami.

Keeping Pierce on the floor, especially down the stretch, will be critical to Boston's chances of splitting the first two games in Miami.

His first technical foul came after he was fouled by James Jones with 7:59 to play.

After the play, Pierce got into Jones' face which led to both players being whistled for a technical foul.

The league reviewed the play on Monday, and rescinded the technical foul against Jones. But they also changed the personal foul against Jones to a flagrant-1 penalty.

Less than a minute after the Jones incident, Pierce was trying to set a screen for Ray Allen when Dwyane Wade came barreling into him.

Pierce said something to Wade after Wade was whistled for a foul. It apparently was enough for official Ed Malloy to whistle Pierce for a second technical which is an automatic ejection.

On Monday, Pierce said he never received an explanation from Malloy on exactly why he was being tossed with seven minutes to play.

Lead official Danny Crawford explained to a pool reporter after the game what Pierce did to warrant the second technical foul.

"It's what we call a verbal taunt," Crawford said. "He directed profanity towards Wade. And in the rulebook, that is a verbal taunt. And it just so happened to be Pierce's second technical foul."

Whatever Pierce said, he didn't expect it would result in him being tossed out of the game.

"I was surprised in getting kicked out," Pierce said. "I didn't think what I did warranted ejection. Sometimes players get caught in the hype of the game. Sometimes the refs do, too."

Pierce does know one thing. A repeat meltdown on his part can do nothing but hurt the Celtics' chances of winning Game 2.

And while he's likely to have some thoughts about Game 1 prior to Tuesday's Game 2 tip-off, by no means does he plan to use that as added incentive to play well.

"I don't need no motivation," Pierce said. "I don't need that to fire me up for this. I have a common goal, just like the rest of my teammates, and that's to win a championship. I'm trying to do everything I can to make that happen."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford was destined to play in tonight’s game between Boston and Houston.
But for which team?
That was the question the four-time All-Star pondered this summer when he narrowed his list of suitors outside of Atlanta to Boston, Houston and Washington, in that order.
“I really considered coming here,” Horford told reporters on Monday. “But them and Boston and Washington. (Houston) and Boston were probably the two teams I was really, really looking at. Just a lot to consider.”

When you look at how seamless Horford has fit in with the Celtics and how well the Rockets (13-7) have played this season, you get the feeling that Horford would have found success individually and for whichever team he chose.
“At the end of the day, I just felt I was better off being here in Boston,” Horford said.
Rockets All-Star James Harden was among the party Houston sent to try and woo Horford to the Rockets.

“I thought we had a chance,” Harden said. “I thought we had a real good chance, but obviously it didn’t work out. Which is fine.”
Indeed, the Rockets have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA this season in large part to Harden moving to the point guard position full-time.
Not only is he once again ranked among the NBA’s top scorers at 28.3 points which ranks fourth in the NBA, but he’s also dishing out a league-high 11.8 assists per game.
“They made it pretty clear in the offseason that he was going to be the point guard,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “He’s got the ball all the time. He had the ball a lot before, but certainly now with their spacing and his ability to make the play himself or the right read to the big rolling or to the many good shooters around, it’s a perfect setup for him and his skillset.”
The ability to draw defenders and create space for those around him is one of the many reasons why the Rockets felt Horford would have been an ideal fit for their system.
But the same argument can be made for the Celtics who unlike the Rockets, at least attempt to play defense at a high level.
Boston began the season ranked among the worst defenses in the NBA, but are currently up to 18th with a defensive rating of 105.0. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ defense ranks 27th in the league with a 107.2 defensive rating.