Pierce Leaves Game With Knee, Ankle Injuries
LOS ANGELES – Monday was supposed to be a night to remember for the right reasons for Paul Pierce, playing in what could be his final matchup against the Celtics.
It started that way, as Pierce began 4-for-6 from the floor, but his night ended early after falling awkwardly on a layup and leaving with a right ankle sprain and right knee contusion late in the second quarter.
Pierce hit the ground and immediately clutched at his knee before getting helped off the court by Chris Paul and head athletic trainer Jasen Powell.
Luckily for Pierce and the Clippers, the injury doesn’t appear to be as serious as it looked initially.
“For a second there, when he went down and grabbed his knee, I definitely thought, ‘Oh boy,’” said head coach Doc Rivers. “Then I’m thinking, ‘And it’s against the Celtics.’ But it didn’t happen, so that’s good.”
There was pain in Pierce’s knee from getting hit, but Rivers said the main injury was a twisted ankle, despite what it looked like on the floor.
“Of course, the Laker fans thought they were going to bring out a wheelchair at one point,” Rivers quipped, in reference to Pierce’s first game of the NBA Finals in 2008. “But they didn’t do that, so that was good. But he’s going to be out for a little bit. We don’t know how long. It’s just one of those things.”
Eventually, Pierce walked under his own power to the locker room Monday. He didn’t return after scoring eight points in 11 minutes, marking his fourth highest scoring output this month.
Pierce spent his first 15 seasons in Boston, winning a championship while playing for Rivers, before going to the Nets, Wizards and Clippers the last three seasons.
When the Clippers played the Celtics before the All-Star break, it marked the first time Rivers and Pierce were back on the court together in Boston since they were with the Celtics, an experience Rivers enjoyed as the two received a friendly ovation.
“The first couple of times, I was the only guy,” Rivers said before Monday’s game at STAPLES Center. “When you both come out, fans just appreciate stuff there. It’s a special place, but it was really cool. It was great to see Paul. He’s far more emotional than he lets on.
“It’s just really good, especially a guy that’s done what he’s done at the end of his career to be appreciated. It’s nice. And it’s nice for the coach to see a player that he coached get that. He deserves it.”
It appeared to be the antithesis of that moment Monday night, with Pierce on the floor in agonizing pain. The injury happened close to the Celtics’ bench, and Kelly Olynyk turned away immediately, fearing the worst.
Most of the Clippers on the floor, however, were getting back on defense and didn’t see what happened.
“I just ran back,” said DeAndre Jordan. “Then I heard the reaction.”
Paul also said he didn’t see the injury happen. But he was worried about Pierce when he saw him writhing in pain.
“Paul is a warrior, a guy that’s been through a lot,” Paul said. “We’re glad that he’s OK.”