Paul Pierce’s Maturity Evident in Comeback Win Over Pacers

Paul Pierce's Maturity Evident in Comeback Win Over Pacers Whenever Celtics head coach Doc Rivers wants to teach his children about how to succeed in sports, he turns to Paul Pierce as an example.

Pierce's latest gem simply provides Rivers with a little more material.

"It's just a good message — confidence is key," Rivers said after Pierce erased a miserable first half with a string of big shots down the stretch in Boston's 103-94 win over Indiana on Tuesday night.

Two nights removed from a 29-point effort in which he matched a franchise record by making all six of his 3-pointers, Pierce missed his first 10 shots against the Pacers.

His first basket came with just 9:01 remaining in the game, a layup that gave the C's an 84-81 lead. A Pierce step-back jumper broke an 86-86 tie with 4:51 left and his lone 3-pointer with 3:33 to go made it a seven-point game.

Later, Pierce added four points in a span of 25 seconds to keep the Pacers at bay and erase any memories of an 0-for-7, zero-assist first half.

"Just sticking with it," Pierce said of the key to the turnaround.

Both Rivers and Pierce met with the media following the game and, without consulting with one another, referenced the same December 2001 game in which Pierce scored 46 of his 48 points after halftime in a win at New Jersey.

He had gone 1-for-16 in the first half, but made 12 of 18 shots after intermission.

Rivers said that game has always been his favorite unit in "Confidence 101," even though his children might roll their eyes. Pierce simply uses it as a reminder: Once a scorer, always a scorer.

"I've been in this league long enough to shrug off shooting slumps," said Pierce, who scored 19 of his 21 points after halftime Tuesday. "The shots I was getting [Tuesday] were good shots. I was thinking it's just gotta be a matter of time before they go in.

"I thought something was wrong with the rim, not with me."

History has shrouded what may have been the issue in the first half of that affair in the Meadowlands over eight years ago. We can pin the blame for Tuesday's sluggish start on the fact that Pierce and his teammates learned just moments before the tip that Kevin Garnett would be inactive with a bruised right thigh.

Playing without Garnett, who is expected back for the Christmas Day matchup with Orlando, robbed the C's of "the guy who we play our offense through," Pierce said.

"I thought it took a second for us to adjust."

A second? Try 24 minutes.

Boston entered halftime trailing 57-42, having shot 30 percent (12-of-40) from the floor. The Celtics had one basket in the final 7-plus minutes of the half and were only in shouting distance because of 15 made free throws.

But Pierce made two more free throws to start a 23-7 run in the third quarter, and his 19-footer midway through the fourth gave the Celtics the lead for good.

Rivers said that at practice on Monday, Garnett was taking his injury in stride and not fighting tooth and nail to be on the court. At one point Pierce walked up to Garnett and said, "Wow, someone's growing up."

Pierce ought to understand maturity. After all, he's got a reputation to uphold in the Rivers household.

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