Pitino on Pierce and Popeye

February 9, 1999

Pitino on Pierce and Popeye

ORLANDO, Fla. - As soon as the Celtics arrived here, they were greeted by news that the Magic might change their starting lineup. It turned out to be a false alarm, as coach Chuck Daly backed away from that idea. But Rick Pitino did not. Pitino said he wanted to experiment, so he reordered his lineup. Rookie Paul Pierce moved to the shooting guard spot, Antoine Walker was switched to small forward (a position he loves), Tony Battie was playing his natural power forward position, and Eric Riley was at center. "The key is Pierce at the 2," Pitino said.

 A few hours after seeing his experiment in action, Pitino stopped short of calling it a failure. But he did acknowledge that he didn't like it. "I don't think it was very good," he said after the 107-90 loss. So now is the experiment canceled? "No," Pitino said, "I think it was OK. But we couldn't play without the press. And we've got to play basketball without the press. And I love the press as much as anyone. I'm a big advocate. But, especially this year, you can't do it. You've got to play great man-to-man defense."

A Magic moment Nick Anderson became the first player in Magic history to reach 10,000 career points . . . Pitino said it was "a joy" to watch the cerebral play of Popeye Jones. The veteran had 13 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes. Jones said he was happy to be back on the court but added, "I think I made some really dumb plays once I got tired. I can't let that happen." Pitino said his younger players should pay attention to the way Jones passes and cuts to the basket . . . Magic vice president Pat Williams, known for his original one-liners, has authored a book, "Ahead of the Game," which he is passing out to visitors.

Apparently, he is not concerned about original lines when it comes to autographing the book. One Boston writer's book was signed to "a writer who is always ahead of the game." Another writer's inscription read, "a writer who is always ahead of the game." Williams even signed a copy for Pitino, to "a coach who is always ahead of the game." . . . The Magic had an outrageous halftime promotion featuring a pig. A microphone was placed next to the pig's snout during "Old McDonald." Stuart Layne, the Celtics' marketing chief, watched the promotion and promised that there will not be a pig redux in Boston . . . Dwayne Schintzius did not play. He said he needs to work on his knees. "That year and a half I took off killed me," he said . . . Rough night for Kenny Anderson. He had a team-high nine assists and a team-high six turnovers.

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