CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Paul Pierce has found a curious way of celebrating his selection as Rookie of the Month for February. March has come in like a lion and become a lion-eater.
In the last eight days, Pierce has (a) gone 0 for 11 against the Cavaliers, (b) been outplayed in a media-hyped mano-a-mano with Toronto's Vince Carter, and (c) submitted a 10-minute goose egg against the Hornets. The last deed has a qualifier: He sprained his right ankle and didn't play in the second half last night.
Coach Rick Pitino said Pierce is day-to-day, but the rook seemed to think it would be more like days-to-days.
"I rolled it pretty good," he said. "I did the same thing last year and I iced it and I was out three or four days. I don't know. We'll see."
Pierce hurt himself landing on Kenny Anderson's foot following a rebound. He left for X-rays (negative), returned to the bench, and then played a short stretch (47 seconds) before coming out for good.
"I could walk on it," he said. "But it didn't feel good. I thought it would be better to rest it now, with 30-something games still left."
Pierce stayed in the locker room in the second half. Ron Mercer missed the fourth quarter after his hamstrings cramped. He said he would be fine and didn't expect to miss any games.
Rice a hot subject
Rumors were swirling before the game that the Lakers had finally agreed to the deal that would send Glen Rice, B.J. Armstrong, and J.R. Reid from Charlotte to Los Angeles for Elden Campbell and Eddie Jones. However, there was no word from the Hornets . . . Dana Barros continues to struggle with his shooting. He was 3 for 10. The Celtics missed all eight of their 3-point attempts . . . Eric Riley got the start at center, but played only seven minutes . . . Old friend David Wesley on the Hornets' woes: "So far, it's been a big disappointment. It sort of makes you wonder what we're doing around here." . . . Pitino has picked Detroit to upset UCLA in tomorrow's first-round NCAA matchup in Indianapolis. Apprised of that, noted UCLA diehard Bill Walton, who picked his alma mater to go all the way, said, "I used to have such respect for Coach Pitino's basketball knowledge. Clearly, the NBA has clouded his brain waves." . . . Pitino and Pierce have a wager should Kansas and Kentucky meet in the second round. "If I lose," Pitino said, "I have to wear a Kansas T-shirt teaching the guys in the walk-through. If he loses, he's got to wear some Kentucky shorts underneath [ his uniform] like Mercer does."