Pierce turns playmaker to help Celtics beat Brooklyn

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Pierce turns playmaker to help Celtics beat Brooklyn

LOS ANGELES -- There was a time when if Paul Pierce scored eight points, it was a sure-fire recipe for defeat for the Celtics.

And while the 35-year-old veteran has shown recently that he can still score with the best of them on any given night, sometimes he'll have to pass -- literally and figuratively -- on playing the role of Boston's best scorer.

Pierce was very much in the giving mood on Christmas Day, handing out a game-high 10 assists in helping the Celtics to a 93-76 win at Brooklyn.

It was Pierce's first double-digit assist game this season, and 23rd of his career.

"I tell you guys all the time, I try to give the game what I feel it needs," Pierce said.

For the bulk of his career, Pierce had little choice but to score in order for the Celtics to have any shot at success.

But as the C's added more talented pieces to surround him, he has shown more of an all-around game in recent years which has elevated his status to that of being more than just a scorer.

And when Pierce has been in a pass-first mode, the Celtics have been extremely successful.

In the 23 games in which Pierce has had 10 or more assists, the Celtics are an impressive 18-5 which includes the C's winning the last nine such games.

Pierce will be the first to acknowledge that like most veterans who have established themselves as perennial all-stars, he's always in search of the next big challenge.

And as much as he loves to score, Pierce seems to find just as much joy in racking up assists -- especially when it leads to a victory.

But against the Nets, Pierce said his passing was more a function of how Brooklyn was defending him.

Defending Pierce is always a high priority for every team that faces the Celtics, but the Captain has been in a nice groove the last couple of games offensively.

He came into the Christmas Day game averaging 30.3 points in Boston's last three games which included a 40-point effort against Cleveland that made him the oldest player in franchise history to score 40 or more points in a game.

"The last couple games, I've been able to put up some pretty big numbers scoring, but that's not what we needed (against Brooklyn)," Pierce said. "I was able to really focus in on making that extra pass. They were zoning in on me, I felt, on defense."

And rather than force the action, Pierce simply re-directed his focus to being more of a playmaker.

"That's the way I like to play," said Pierce who is averaging a team-best 20.5 points per game this season. "I don't have to go in every game thinking I have to score 25 or 30 points."

Morning Skate: Asking price on Shattenkirk should scare off Bruins

Morning Skate: Asking price on Shattenkirk should scare off Bruins

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after watching the Boston Celtics take a hard pass on the Boogie. 
 
-- Bob McKenzie sits in with the good folks at TSN 1200 Ottawa sports radio and talks a little Claude Julien of the Montreal Canadiens

-- The Avalanche youth movement is set to begin as quickly as March 1, as Colorado may move some of its veteran players at the trade deadline. 
 
-- Ryan Johansen got snubbed in his return to Columbus for the first time as a member of the Nashville Predators. That’s too bad, but it’s also not exactly Wayne Gretzky returning to the Edmonton Oilers for the first time. 
 
-- The price tag for Kevin Shattenkirk is in and it includes a top prospect and a first-round pick, along with another piece, for a rental defenseman. That should be far too rich for the Bruins’ blood. The B's were already intent on avoiding the rental market ahead of the trade deadline, and the steep price -- even for a potentially useful short-term acquisition like the puck-moving Shattenkirk -- should make that even more of a certainty. 
 
-- Ken Campbell asks whether hockey agents have gone too far in chasing after prospective prospects before they even enter their teenage years. 

 -- Bobby Ryan has a hand injury that’s going to sideline him, another piece of bad luck for the Senators forward. 
 
-- For something completely different: On President’s Day, it seems only natural to go through the favorite Presidents in the history of the Marvel Universe.

Curran: Jets' 2015 tampering with Revis more extensive than NFL revealed

Curran: Jets' 2015 tampering with Revis more extensive than NFL revealed

The Patriots obviously got it right when they pushed away from the table during the Darrelle Revis bidding war in 2015. 

The once-great corner spent the 2016 season languishing on the field. He’s spending the early part of the offseason reacting negatively to backpack journalism after midnight. 

MORE PATRIOTS

But the alleged double KO by Revis and his buddies isn’t what prompts this submission. 

It’s the revelation from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News that the tampering the Jets engaged in when they were prying Revis loose from the Patriots was way, way more involved than what the NFL fined them for. And that Jets owner Woody Johnson knew all about it. 

Mehta leads his piece revealing that, long before free agency opened in 2015, Revis “was ready to squeeze more money out of [Johnson] who he knew would be willing to overpay for his services again.”

Mehta reports that, “back-channel discussions with the Jets in February set the foundation for a Revis reunion . . . 

“Team officials in stealth mode communicated with Revis, Inc., through private cell phones and face-to-face covert meetings at the 2015 Scouting Combine rather than make calls from the team's landlines at their Florham Park facility. No paper trails were a must.

“Johnson, the driving force behind bringing back Revis to right a wrong in his mind, endorsed all of it.”

The Patriots -- who were in the midst of the Deflategate colonoscopy that resulted in absurd-level discipline -- lodged a complaint with the league over the Jets tampering after Revis signed with the Jets in mid-March of 2015. 

The Jets were fined $100,000 but weren’t docked any draft picks.. The tender wrist slap came, ostensibly, because Johnson moronically stated at a December press conference that he’d “love” to have Revis return to New York. 

Maybe Johnson wasn’t being a dummy. That comment provided cover for the league office -- which has a documented history of treating the two NYC franchises with kid gloves -- to let the Jets off easy. 

Mehta’s article is the latest offering from him since completing his heel turn against Revis. 

Mehta did everything but fly the plane to bring Revis to New York once the 2014 season ended. And this is what he wrote the day the Jets penalty came down: 

The NFL’s attempt to uncover any dirt was an exercise in futility, a witch hunt driven by nonsense from a hypocritical organization with no reason to feel threatened by its competitor. 

You may wonder what’s the point? 

Clearly, the Patriots got it right while the Jets cheated, got what they wanted, and are now getting what they deserved. 

And everyone already knows the league office’s investigations and operations arms under the brutally incompetent leadership of Troy Vincent are a laughingstock. 

All true. But if I don’t write this now, I may have no recollection of this particular instance of league corruption given the absolute avalanche of other incidents