BOSTON — Things got a little curious Sunday night at the end of the first half of the Celtics' 92-86 victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
The Celtics had possession and a 45-39 lead, and they were gearing up to take the final shot of the second quarter. Rajon Rondo had the ball at the top of the arc, picked up his dribble and looked to swing it over to Paul Pierce, who was walking off the court as if time had expired. Rondo slapped the ball a couple of times to get Pierce's attention to no avail, and the Celtics didn’t end up getting a shot off.
Since Pierce, Rondo and the rest of the Celtics played so well in the second half, it was mostly a moot point, but everyone still wanted to know what happened.
"It was nothing," Pierce said. "I told Rajon at halftime I had a couple of buckets going, and I wanted the ball and he wanted to do something different. And I was a little upset at that. Hey, he's our point guard, and I trust him. He's made so many great plays for us throughout the year and throughout the playoffs. It wasn’t nothing. I went and told him at halftime that it was nothing. We've got spats with our team all the time. We always have spats, but the good thing about it, we always clean it right up. I was a little mad, but I went in the locker room and told him don’t sweat it. We're in this to get a win. It wasn’t about who gets the last shot."
Rondo also weighed in.
"I knew Paul had it going, and Luke Walton was really hard trying to deny him the ball," Rondo said. "I tried to look [Walton] off knowing that I was going to Paul, but it was just communication. I just wanted to make a play."
Basically, everyone wanted Pierce to get the ball, Pierce especially, and when that wasn’t working out, Pierce got ornery and left the court. For a moment, that wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for Pierce's character, but the Boston captain straightened things out in the locker room and made way for a great second half.
If the Celtics lost, and this episode was the turning point, it would obviously be a much bigger deal. But, they took the game, a 3-2 series lead and got better as the night wore on.
Bottom line, it was a feud that happened in the public eye. It didn’t need to happen, and from Pierce's perspective, it shouldn’t have happened. Eventually, though, the Celtics showed their mettle, and maturity won out, helping the C's take the night.