Celtics Notebook: Pierce learns to keep his cool
The night of May 5, 2005, was one of the low points in his 10-year career with the Boston Celtics.
In the closing seconds of the fourth quarter in Game 6 of an opening-round playoff game with the Indiana Pacers, Paul Pierce lost his cool and was ejected during a critical point.
With the Celtics leading, 84-83, Pierce didn’t like the way he was intentionally fouled by Jamaal Tinsley and responded with an elbow that resulted in his second technical and an automatic ejection.
The Celtics managed to survive in overtime to win, but Pierce embarrassed himself by taking off his jersey as he left the court, then showed up at a press conference wearing tape on his chin and ears, saying, “I have a broken jaw.”
Three years later, in another Game 6, Pierce was placed in another situation in which he could have lost his cool.
On Friday night against the Detroit Pistons, referee Bennett Salvatore made a puzzling call against Pierce late in the third quarter of their Eastern Conference finals.
With the Celtics trailing, 64-58, Pierce up-faked a Detroit defender while behind the 3-point line, leaned in and made the shot as he was hit. Everyone was expecting a potential four-point play and a 64-62 game, but Salvatore instead whistled the foul on Pierce.
In his younger days, Pierce likely would have argued and received a technical, but he merely shook his head and eventually shared a laugh with Coach Doc Rivers about the call.
Then Pierce went out and authored a stunning comeback, leading a rally with 12 fourth-quarter points as the Celtics wiped out a 10-point deficit to win, 89-81.
“You know, I was a little upset at the call,” said Pierce, who is headed to his first championship series Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. “But, hey, I knew that things wouldn’t go our way being that we were on the road and trying to go to the NBA Finals.
“I didn’t expect calls. My whole mindset going in there was if they made a bad call on me, I was just going to get back and suck it up and try to get back.
“I didn’t let it frustrate me like probably in the past. I probably would have lost my poise, lost my cool, got a technical. But that would have been selfish of me and taken away from the team. So I just wanted to brush it off and just keep playing.”
Back to work:
After taking the past two days off, the Celtics had an 11 a.m. practice scheduled for today in Waltham as they begin preparing for the Lakers … The Celtics are a three-point favorite to win Game 1 while the Lakers are a little bit less than a 2-1 favorite to win the series … The Lakers’ rotation includes forward Luke Walton, whose father, Bill, was on the last Celtics’ championship team. One of LA’s assistants is Brian Shaw, a former first-round pick by Boston.