A Paul Pierce vs. Vince Carter Shootout

03.05.09 9 years ago 101 Comments
Paul Pierce

It’s nice when the Celtics’ stars can be humble, but really, forget all that “Rajon Rondo is the most important player on the team” stuff: Boston only goes as far as Paul Pierce takes them. Last night in Jersey—where a crowd heavy with NYC transplants was booing Stephon Marbury whenever he got the ball—Pierce engaged in a circa-2002 shootout with Vince Carter, which ended with The Truth eviscerating the Nets in crunch time … The Celtics were up 13 early in the fourth, as Doc kept Steph, House, Walker, Powe and Moore on the court for a good chunk of the quarter. But then VC hit a three, Devin Harris got some buckets, Jarvis Hayes dropped a triple, and the next thing you know, it’s tied with two and a half minutes to go. That’s when Pierce (31 pts, 12-14 FG) took over. He baited Hayes into a foul while sticking a pull-up J, then completed the three-point play. After Hayes was perfect on a three-shot foul and Vince stuck a trey to put NJ on top, Pierce assisted Ray Allen on a three that tied it back up, then with about 20 seconds left, stepped back on Hayes on the baseline and gave him another jumper that proved to be the game-winner. Vince (34 pts, 13-21 FG) had a chance to tie, driving past Pierce but missing a tough shot over two defenders … After Ray’s three, Mikki was on the bench doing the Pedro Cerrano. Is it just us, or does Mikki have a constant mean-mug? Even when he’s not in the game he looks pissed. He’s one of those dudes who’s probably ice-grilling in his wedding photos … D-Wade put together yet another convincing compilation that he’s the most complete guard in the NBA, and would have done so even if you only caught the last 4-5 minutes of Miami’s win over the Suns. The Heat were never in serious trouble, thanks to Flash making plays all over the court: Chasing down Grant Hill and Budingering his layup off the backboard; falling to his knees with the ball, and before Jason Richardson could tie him up and call “First,” passing from the floor to Udonis Haslem for an open jumper; drilling a pull-up in J-Rich’s eye (after which the cameras caught Tim Hardaway in the stands laughing his ass off); and in the end, repeatedly getting himself into the lane and to the line to seal it with free throws … One time Wade (35 pts, 16 asts) got knocked on his back by Shaq, and stayed sprawled out on the floor while Diesel just stood over him and (jokingly?) glared at him for a good 10 seconds without offering a hand. The Miami crowd and the announcers were all over Shaq for that …

Dirk NowitzkiDirk Nowitzki (photo. Isom)

When it mattered most, the Mavs were able to rely on Dirk and defense to beat the Spurs. With about four minutes left, Dirk (24 pts, 12 rebs) hit a three and then another jumper to put Dallas up by 10 and had the arena literally shaking. (Jeff Van Gundy to Dirk after the three: “You can’t stick your tongue out!”) Those should have been the daggers, but Tony Parker (37 pts) kept San Antonio alive until the Mavs made a couple big defensive plays at the end. With 30 seconds left and Dallas up five, San Antonio couldn’t get the ball inbounds and had to burn their last timeout; on the ensuing possession, the Mavs wouldn’t let Michael Finely or Roger Mason—the two guys you want taking that three-pointer if you’re the Spurs—get open, forcing Parker to take and miss a corner three … After AK-47 dropped a between-his-legs no-look pass to Kyle Korver cutting along the baseline (with an over-exaggerated fake handoff thrown in for extra misdirection), Yao Ming definitely got caught dropping an F-bomb on the Houston bench. The Jazz picked up the W, their ninth in a row, behind Deron Williams‘ 26 points and 14 dimes, and Carlos Boozer‘s 20 and 17 boards … Other notable stat lines from Wednesday: LeBron scored 23 in a win over Milwaukee; Rudy Gay dropped 35 in a win over the Clippers; Antawn Jamison scored 29 in a loss to the Thunder; and Joakim Noah went for 14 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks in a rout over Golden State … Here’s Portland announcer Mike Rice’s scouting report of Roy Hibbert: “He’s real tall, over 7-feet, and has real long arms. But he doesn’t have that soft touch around the basket, so he’s gonna miss a lot of layups.” That’s nice to hear if you’re an Indiana fan, that your big man of the future will have trouble making layups … The Pacers were in control for three and a half quarters, but fell behind when the Blazers went on a 14-0 run, capped by back-to-back Steve Blake threes that put the Blazers up by four. And maybe it was because he was the guy leaving Blake open—or maybe it was just because he’s T.J. Ford—but that’s when T.J. Ford decided he was going to win the game by himself. He went 1-on-5 on multiple possessions down the stretch and took some truly terrible shots; only some of them were going in, so the Pacers stayed in the game … Eventually it came down to a tie score with 11 seconds left, Blazers ball, so obviously you give it to Brandon Roy and let him go to work. Guarded by T.J., Roy (28 pts) got where he wanted to the bucket, and right before he was going to kick it out to wide-open Travis Outlaw in the corner, got tripped by T.J. and sent to the line, where he buried the game-winning free throws with 1.7 seconds left … On every foul, the TV scoreboard on the Blazers’ broadcast shows what kind of foul was actually called—pushing, holding, blocking, etc. One time Troy Murphy clubbed Joel Przybilla across the head as Joel went up for a shot, and after the whistle, the scoreboard just said, “Hand-check.” … We’re out like Hibbert making layups …

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