The final say - Pierce is done
The last two weeks have been almost like a death watch. Last night, the official notice came from Doc Rivers. The Celtics coach announced that Paul Pierce has played his last game of the season.
It wasn't exactly a stunning development, given that Pierce had not played since going 53 minutes in the double-overtime victory over Orlando March 28 and had hinted he might have to stop playing to rest his aching body (elbow, foot, general weariness). Pierce's injury ravages will have cost him 35 games when everything comes to a merciful conclusion in six days. Including last night's 102-94 loss to the 76ers, the Celtics are 3-28 without him.
Rivers noted that the Celtics will not have another practice for the rest of the season so it seemed pointless to bring back Pierce for the last few games. "I just think it's dangerous and not smart to do," Rivers said. "I don't think it makes any sense."
Asked to comment, Pierce refused. A team official said Pierce would speak tomorrow before the game against the Bucks.
Rivers said the decision came after he, Pierce, and basketball operations chief Danny Ainge met before last night's game. Pierce earlier this season missed 24 games because of a stress reaction in his left foot. This latest period of inactivity was because of soreness in his left elbow, the same elbow that bothered him last year at this time and necessitated summer surgery.
Pierce will finish the season averaging 25 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Rivers said he expected Pierce to return next season "healthier, and maybe fresher and just as good, if not better, than he was this year. In my opinion, we're going to be a good team next year, a much better team, and we need Paul to be there."
Still reeling along
The Celtics maintained their lock on the second-worst record in a game that had the feel and look of a D-League contest. Then again, with such participants as Allan Ray, Kevinn Pinkney, Louis Amundsen, and Louis Williams, there were more than a few D-League alums on the floor. Let's hope Greg Oden wasn't watching this one.
The Celtics announced a TD Banknorth Garden crowd of 15,008 - without a laugh track. The 55th Celtics loss of the season had a predictable feel to it. Boston led by 9 after one, by 11 at the half, then saw a 15-point third-quarter lead vanish. From there, the depleted Sixers pulled away from the depleted Celtics, sending Boston to its fifth straight loss.
The Sixers have won three in a row. Ryan Gomes led the Celtics with 26 points, and Gerald Green, coming off a career-high 33 Tuesday, added 22.
For Philadelphia, Steven Hunter - gulp - matched his career high of 20.
As if things couldn't get worse, the Celtics lost Sebastian Telfair in the second half with a left ankle sprain.
Delonte West and Al Jefferson are also close to being shut down for the rest of the season, Rivers said. West said he hoped to play tomorrow night, but he always says he hopes to play in the next game. Last night was the fourth straight game he has missed with his latest malady, a sprained left ankle. He has missed eight other games because of back woes, a concussion, and a sprained toe. Jefferson missed his fifth straight game with a bruised left knee. He also missed seven games in November recovering from an emergency appendectomy. Jefferson said he was still day to day. Rivers said both players were free to accompany the team to Florida whether they play or not. "We're going to Miami. I've got a feeling they'll all want to go," he said ... Rivers and some Celtics are scheduled to be at Fenway Park for this afternoon's game to represent the team as the Red Sox honor the late Red Auerbach. The weather could make that moot ... The 76ers were without their top two scorers, Andre Iguodala (back) and Kyle Korver (right wrist sprain). Philadelphia entered last night's game with a 27-27 record since the trading of Allen Iverson and a 23-19 record since the release of Chris Webber ... Ainge said he will decide tomorrow whether to sign Pinkney to a second 10-day contract. "I've liked what I've seen, but I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do," Ainge said ... Ainge also said he would make the pitch to ownership that it give Rivers a contract extension. "Yes. We want to keep him here and he wants to stay," Ainge said. Ainge said the matter will be taken up at the end of the season, although Rivers's agent, Lonnie Cooper, already has made contact with the club seeking an extension.