Pierce will Undergo X-Rays

Pierce will Undergo X-Rays

January 15, 2004


Paul Pierce can keep a secret. At least, Celtics coach Jim O'Brien was unaware how much pain Pierce played through during last night's contest.

When asked why Pierce went 1 for 10 from the floor and scored just 4 points, O'Brien said he didn't want to speculate. A sore and swollen left hand was to blame for the captain's poor shooting performance. Pierce injured the hand diving after a loose ball in Milwaukee Tuesday. He will undergo X-rays today.

   "Hopefully, it's just bruised and nothing inside it is anything major," said Pierce. "Hopefully, I'll be ready [for Orlando tomorrow]. It's just unfortunate because you hate to have little nagging injuries like this because definitely it has an effect."

Following the game, Pierce complained of numbness and pain in the hand that hindered his ability to catch the ball, make passes, and rebound. Mark Blount noticed early in last night's contest that something was seriously wrong.

"His hand was a little swollen," said Blount. "I knew something was up when I threw him the ball and he didn't catch it. Usually, when I zip it over there, he catches it. He just dropped it and slapped it over to somebody and that was it." Points at the midpoint

Unless you count festivities marking the second annual Asian-American night at the FleetCenter, the Celtics unceremoniously reached the halfway point of the NBA season last night after losing to the Rockets, 95-80.

Boston was the first team in the league to complete half its schedule. Never a coach for much comparison of the past and the present, O'Brien did take some satisfaction in the way his team has progressed offensively in terms of ball movement and field goal percentage, especially given all the roster changes. But he is not happy with the team's defense.

"I think we're in a position where we can improve," said O'Brien. "I think we've won some big games, lost some very disappointing games. There are things to build on, our field goal defense, our field goal offense. If we can respectively take care of our defensive glass, then take care of our turnovers, then I think we can grow this basketball team.

"Offensively, I think we move the ball 10 times better than we did last year and have tremendously more movement than we did in the past. It's also hard to guard, when we consistently reverse the basketball and move people and set solid screens and solid, random pick and rolls. It has to [improve]. No phase of our game can remain where it is right now in order for us to improve our team." McCarty meets challenge

Walter McCarty was back in the starting lineup last hoping to present the same matchup problems against Yao Ming that he did in the teams' first meeting Sunday. But McCarty, more specifically his back, paid a price for fronting Ming as the Celtics defeated the Rockets, 97-93 at the Toyota Center. "Walter is really banged up," said O'Brien. "He has a bad back that goes all the way back to the Houston game, fronting Yao and getting pounded in the back. It really restricted him [Tuesday] night [in Milwaukee]. But Walter will always give us his best effort. I think [his back] hurt his shooting [against the Bucks] and hurt his mobility on defense. So, we're going to really have to keep an eye on how well he's moving and how well he's bending his knees." Last night, McCarty had 7 points (2 for 7, 1 for 4 from 3-point range).

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