WASHINGTON This was the Paul Pierce we had been waiting to see all season.
It doesn't matter if it was against the Washington Wizards, one of the worst teams -- scratch that, the worst team -- in the NBA.
Seeing the Truth do what does best -- dominate games -- was a refreshing sight.
And with one starter down (Rajon Rondo) and another one by halftime (Ray Allen), Pierce could not have picked a better time to go into full takeover-mode for the Celtics (6-9) as the C's held on for a 100-94 win.
Pierce finished with a season-high 34 points along with a team-high 10 assists. Washington's John Wall led the way with 27 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
"It feels good to get the win," Pierce said. "We have been struggling as a team as of late and we have to try and round up these wins and play some more consistent basketball."
Pierce added, "I just want to come in with the mindset to be more aggressive. That's when I am a better player. Having Rondo out, I over-think the game at times but I just need to focus on what's going to get me better. My legs are getting stronger and hopefully I can start developing a rhythm."
Washington (2-14) led 84-83 with 6:06 to play following a 3-point play by Nick Young. The C's responded with a rare fourth quarter run of its own, as Pierce capped off a 10-2 run with a lay-up to put the C's up 93-86 with just over three minutes to play.
With Rondo (right wrist) out and Ray Allen (left ankle) out by halftime, the C's had little choice but to ride the back of Pierce.
Winning was certainly a motivating factor for Pierce.
But according to Kevin Garnett, some of the Washington players may have fired him up a bit as well.
"They started talking a little garbage to him, a little trash," Garnett said. "We call that, 'hitting the button.' Truth (Paul Pierce) hit the button tonight. It was good to see him have a game like this. He came out very strong tonight, and we needed it."
But with Rondo and Allen out, the Wizards had to know that more of the scoring load would fall on Pierce.
It didn't matter, though, as they threw a slew of defenders on him who all struggled.
"It's tough with a player like that," said Washington's John Wall, who spent some time guarding Pierce as well. "He does a good job of picking teams apart and that's what he did to us. He's a great player and he's going to the Hall of Fame. We just tried to guard him straight up and make him take tough shots."
Added Wizards guard Nick Young, "You saw what Paul was doing out there. It's tough to stop a guy like that when he has it going."
The C's will need more of that from Pierce, as the Celtics try to build off of Sunday's success against a talented Orlando Magic team on Monday.
"That's going to be a big game for us," Pierce said. "We have to show that we can beat some of the better teams around the NBA. It's going to be on our home court. Orlando is playing good basketball. It's going to be a good challenge for us, especially on a back-to-back. We'll see."