Rookie Pierce Showing a Tendency to Come Up Big in 4th

February 11, 1999

Rookie Pierce Showing a Tendency to Come Up Big in 4th

Paul Pierce had an 11-point fourth quarter last night. He had a 15-point fourth quarter Saturday against the Raptors. A trend? "I've been doing that since junior high," Pierce said. "It's something I've always wanted to do. I've always wanted to score when it counts." . . . Pierce and Dana Barros collaborated on a nice alley-oop in the fourth quarter.

The rookie also blocked two more shots. He is second to 7-footer Eric Riley in that category . . . Two other reasons the Celtics won: They came out on top in the rebounding wars by seven and forced Tim Hardaway into a 5-for-16 shooting night. You know Riley didn't like to see that Terry Porter was his No. 2 scorer, with 21 points . . . The Heat are supposedly interested in former Celtic Blue Edwards . . . Will the Celtics still go double sessions tomorrow? Word is that some players are going to try to compromise with Pitino on the practice schedule.

Mercer loosens up Pitino believes Ron Mercer will be ready to play by next week, when the Celtics begin a three-game West Coast trip against the Sacramento Kings. Mercer has been practicing with the team and now has a lighter, looser brace for his sprained right knee . . . The Heat got some disappointing news before the game. Jamal Mashburn, who many say had gotten into the best shape of his career, has a severe bone contusion on his left knee. The forward is expected to be out at least two weeks, most likely much longer.

"We've basically lost our third and fourth offensive weapons," Pat Riley said of Mashburn and injured shooting guard Voshon Lenard. Lenard will have surgery this week to repair a stress fracture of the left tibia and probably will be out for the year. When people in Miami heard about Mashburn's injury, speculation began on whether the Heat - the consensus preseason choice for the Atlantic Division championship - will make the playoffs . . . Pitino isn't surprised by all the injuries. He said he could work a treadmill for 4 miles daily and "still not be able to play two minutes of basketball. It's just a different kind of preparation." . . . On Friday, team rosters have to be reduced to 12 from 14. But don't expect the Celtics to make any cuts.

Why? Injuries. "And they're legitimate," Pitino said. Look for a couple of players to go on the injured list, Walter McCarty being one . . . Marty Conlon still is on the Heat roster and enjoying himself. He said of Riley, "This guy doesn't play any games. He rewards hard workers. If somebody gets hurt, boom, he puts you right in there and expects you to do well." Conlon played his first five minutes of the season Monday against Charlotte . . . It has been one year since Walker didn't reach double figures in scoring. That's a span of 39 games.

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