It looked like the Celtics were out of luck. Their thriller of a game against the Denver Nuggets was about to end with a loss in double overtime.
Then Paul Pierce happened.
The Celtics trailed by three points with 18.9 seconds left in the second extra session after Ty Lawson canned a jumper for the Nuggets. Doc Rivers called for a timeout and drew up a play for his team. This is what Rivers instructed his players to do:
“The original play was Pierce coming off a pick-and-roll,” said Rivers. “If he could get a 3 off, get it. If not, (pass to) [Jason Terry].”
That sounds pretty simple, but what happened on the play was anything but simple. The Celtics were discombobulated and could not get a look at the basket. Once the clock ticked down to a certain point, it was time for Plan B.
“Originally we were going to go for a quick 2,” Rivers stated after the win. “Once it got under the 11-second mark I was yelling, 'We have to take a 3 now.'”
Pierce must have heard his coach yelling in his ear from the sideline. He politely obliged.
Pierce made a move on his defender and fired up a 3 from the left wing that rattled through the basket with 5.2 seconds left in the session. Denver did not score in those final 5.2 seconds, which propelled the game into a third overtime.
There were a handful of key plays that occurred in the final five minutes of the game to give Boston the win, but none were more important than Pierce’s 3-pointer. He gave his team a chance to win the game and his teammates made it happen to extend their winning streak to a league-best seven games.
Rivers summed Pierce's heroics up beautifully by saying, “That’s what great players do.”
Key Box Score Line
In a game that featured seven players logging at least 40 minutes of playing time, surely there would be a lot of impressive box score lines. None of them came anywhere close to touching Paul Pierce’s.
Pierce hit the biggest shot of the game at the end of the second overtime to highlight his team-high 27 points. He shot just 7-of-20 from the field, but he did nail five of his nine 3-pointers and eight of his nine free throws. On top of his scoring, Pierce also dished out a game-high 14 assists and grabbed 14 rebounds.
This was vintage Paul Pierce, and the Nuggets couldn’t handle his old school ways.
Box Score Nuggets
- Both teams combined to attempt 221 shots on the night.
- Paul Pierce and Ty Lawson each played more than 54 minutes.
- Pierce notched a triple-double of 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.
- Lawson scored a game-high 29 points.
- The Nuggets grabbed an incredible 65 rebounds in the game, led by 16 from reserve JaVale McGee.
- Kevin Garnett grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds while also scoring 20 points and dishing out six assists.
- The Celtics scored 24 points off of Denver's 21 turnovers.
- The Celtics lost the battles of points in the paint, second-chance points and fast break points yet still won.
- Denver shot just 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from the free-throw line.
- Jason Terry scored a season-high 26 points and attempted a season-high 14 3-pointers.
- Pierce (14 boards) and Garnett (18 boards) were the only Celtics who grabbed more than five rebounds.
- Five players in the game attempted at least 20 shots, led by Garnett's 24.
- The teams combined to block 19 shots (11 by Denver, eight by Boston).
Quote of the Night
It forces everybody to play with the same intensity or even higher. Those are our leaders, and they lead the way and we gotta follow suit. Jeff Green on the intensity of Paul Pierce and Kevin GarnettMore quotes >>