L.A. Clippers' Paul Pierce caps final appearance in Boston with late 3-pointer
As far as achievements go, hitting a last-minute 3-pointer to avoid going scoreless wouldn’t figure to rank very high on the list of a player with a championship, a Finals MVP, 10 All-Star appearances and more than 26,000 career points to his name.
This, however, was different.
Making his final appearance in Boston, the city where he spent 15 seasons and became a Celtics legend, Clippers small forward Paul Pierce hit a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining in Sunday’s game to earn a deafening roar from the crowd at TD Garden. It was his only basket of the game.
— NBA (@NBA) February 5, 2017
Those same fans gave Pierce a huge ovation during pregame introductions, then spent much of the second half urging Clippers coach Doc Rivers — with whom Pierce won a championship for the Celtics in 2008 — to put Pierce back in the game, a 107-102 victory for the home team.
Rivers obliged with 19.8 seconds remaining, providing Pierce one last opportunity to delight the Boston faithful.
And as he’d done so many times before, the second-leading scorer in Celtics franchise history delivered.
Said Rivers: “That was perfect.”
“I played under the lights of retired numbers, a lot of legends, man,” Pierce told the Los Angeles Times before Sunday’s game. “So that right there is pressure in itself when you’re out there trying to hold the franchise down and you see the numbers and then you look up and Bill Russell, Cousy, Havlicek and all them are in the stands and you’re trying to live up to the expectations that they put [for] the franchise.
“That’s a lot of pressure putting on that uniform as a franchise player. But I’m happy that I was able to deliver a championship and people loved the heart and passion I put into the game out there.”
Pierce, the 10th pick in the 1998 draft out of Kansas, spent 15 seasons with the Celtics until they traded him to Brooklyn in 2013. He signed with the Wizards in 2014 before joining the Clippers in 2015.
His 24,021 points in a Celtics uniform trail only Hall of Famer John Havlicek (26,395).