“My hip is bothering me right now,” he said, noting that he strained it during the game.
The Celtics captain showed no signs of it late in the C's gritty 91-89 win against the New York Knicks on Friday night at the TD Garden.
Doc Rivers contemplated taking Pierce out earlier in the game, but the determined Celtics captain began hitting a rhythm his coach couldn’t ignore. Pierce was getting in the zone, a mindset he slips into when shots seem to come naturally and the basket seems wide open.
“I think my concentration level, my focus really goes up later in the game,” he said. “You think about so many times you’ve been in this situation before and it almost comes natural, just being there, not really feeling too much of the pressure. You try to relax and play the game and let it come to you. When those shots are there, you try not to rush it. When you’ve been there so many times, it really comes naturally for me.”
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah… Celtics big comeback win… whatever.
Pierce HIP hurts now?? Oh come on, man.
The good news is that it wasn't bad enough to pull him from the game, but these things can stiffen up. The C's play tomorrow at noon against a pretty good Memphis team. They'll need Pierce in the line up. So let's see if that hip is alright tomorrow. The C's are still trying to find their groove offensively… the last thing we need is Pierce missing more time, and conditioning.
On Page 2: The real hero may have been Chris Wilcox
"I think it was more mental; I couldn’t even grab the ball," said Wilcox. "Every time I grabbed it [in the first half], it was slipping out of my hands. I just had to sit down, like, 'Just give me a second. Breath.' And then I came out and played hard."
Wilcox's finest moment came as part of a hustle sequence that showed just how badly Boston wanted this game. After the Celtics made it a two-point game early in the fourth quarter, Pierce missed a long jumper and the rebound bounced all the way back out past midcourt. Pierce won a footrace for the ball, giving the team a second opportunity, but Brandon Bass missed a bunny. A Knicks defender seemingly had the rebound secured, but Wilcox instead essentially ripped it away from him before going up strong and getting fouled.
Wilcox made both of the free throws to tie the game at 77 with 7:43 to go. He assisted on a Bass jumper 86 seconds later and the Celtics led the rest of the way.
Huge sequence. Huge. And further proof that effort right now is the most important ingredient in the recipe for NBA success.
This lockout schedule is a killer. Teams are playing a lot of games in short spans. They're tired. So if anyone on the bench can come in and play really hard in late game situations, they're going to get these kinds of plays.
And it's really great that it was Chris Wilcox, because we needed this guy to step up. The C's are finally starting to see some semblance of rotation. Brandon Bass is playing Big Baby's role last year of KG's back up and then finisher with the four other starters. Wilcox is coming in for Jermaine. Avery Bradley is going to be getting reps in the back court when you need stops and, eventually, Keyon Dooling will be in there behind Rondo. And Mickael Pietrus will get time behind Ray.
That's a 10 man rotation. Maybe E'Twaun Moore will get mixed in, but there's not enough time for everyone.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Celtics game won't win any beauty contests | Celtics scrape by Knicks | ESPN Boston: Allen strong at finish line | WEEI: Sean Grande refelects on 1,000 games with Max | Ray Allen's guide to being a Celtic | The Celtics season starts now | Herald: Celtics hustle and flow | Plenty of fight in Green | Rusty Rondo gets back into action | Globe: Celtics feeling the pinch a bit | Diagnosis gives Dickerson relief