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Paul Pierce had 30 points last night, but in the Celtics 97-92 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets at the Garden, it looked more like 30 carries on a muddy football field. Some games require a different skill set. And mindset.
“As a team, we like it any way we can get it at this point,” Pierce said after the C’s fifth straight victory — on the heels of five straight losses. “Whether it’s in the mud, in the rain, in the snow, on the concrete, in 100-degree weather, we’ll take it.”
Pierce, in particular, seems to relish such a game. “I mean,” he said, “it fits my personality.”
The Truth we know and love, is back.
After an impressive stretch in mid-to-late January where Paul Pierce dominated games playing point-forward in Rajon Rondo's absence, he faded in February. The effort was subpar on many nights and I wondered if he was playing with an injury. There were 7 games where he scored 15 or fewer points while playing 35 or more minutes.
March has been another story. Dare I say, the switch has been flipped. In three games, he's averaging 30 points and shooting 62%. He's averaging 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He's also passing the eye test. The hustle, effort and will-to-win are visibly obvious.
On Page 2, Ray Allen channels his inner Maverick.
"I had a couple early in the game that didn't go in for me, and I was watching how they were guarding me," Allen said after the game. "So as the fourth quarter came along, every time I got the ball, I knew they were trying to run me off the 3, so I said, 'This 3 is going to be on my terms.'"
The 3 in question was Allen's biggest shot of the night, as he found himself open in the left corner, took a feed from Brandon Bass and buried the shot to put the C's up by two, capping off a 14-2 Boston run that saw them overcome an 80-70 deficit with just over 5½ minutes remaining.
"When [Courtney] Lee jumped at me, I was going to pump-fake him and let him fly by me, just like one of my favorite movies, 'Top Gun,'" Allen joked. "Put on the brakes and let him fly by."
Like Pierce, February was not kind to Ray Allen. Sure, just about any player in the history of the league would take his 40% shooting percentage from three, but that's about 10 percentage points lower than what he shot in January.
No matter how much Ray is struggling in a certain game, when he rises up for a shot late in a close game, I always feel like it's going to drop.
Related link: WEEI – Allen comes through in clutch
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Bass likely vs 76ers | KG passes Shaq in career rebounds | Rapid Reaction: Cs 97 – Rockets 92 | Globe – Garnett hits rebounding milestone | Celtics survive in OT | CSNNE – All of a sudden, Cs playing for Atlantic Division lead | Garnett passes Shaq for 12th in rebounds | Celtics – Rockets review: What we saw | McHale can relate to talk of aging Big 3 | Herald – Celtics streak stays alive | Passion back for McHale | Celtics awaken in time to beat Rockets |