SALT LAKE CITY -- After shootaround yesterday morning, Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte took a good, long look at Paul Pierce's left elbow. Lacerte poked and prodded the swollen area, which looked like someone sliced a golf ball in half and glued it on the elbow. Pierce also performed something of a self-examination, pinching a thickened circle of skin at the very tip.
''It's broke," deadpanned Pierce, who wore protective padding below his customary green armband for last night's game. He couldn't have been bothered much, as he scored 30 points in the Celtics' 20-point win over the Jazz.
For many players, lingering elbow soreness coupled with what Pierce called a mildly sprained left ankle would be cause to miss a couple of games. At the very least, back-to-back road games would be cause for concern. But not for Pierce, who doesn't know when he suffered the injuries.
He played through the pain before the All-Star break on his way to a career-high 50 points against Cleveland. He ranks right up there with Allen Iverson in pain tolerance and desire to be on the floor.
''I just know how to will myself through it," said Pierce. ''I'm just good at dealing with pain. Maybe it's because I had two older brothers who used to beat me up, then tell me to go outside. My mother was always telling me to stop being a crybaby. You've just got to deal with it. I pride myself on showing up everyday."
For all Pierce does on the court, his best quality may be his durability. He hasn't missed a game since the 2003-04 season.
''His elbow's hurting," said coach Doc Rivers. ''That's just part of the league. The better players are usually sore right now. They get hit all the time, and banged around. There's no way around it. I'm not concerned about it. Paul's a gamer."
Al Jefferson looks both bored and frustrated. He hoped to return from a sprained right ankle this week, though that timeline now looks overly optimistic. So he glumly sits on the sideline and watches his teammates.
''I'm taking it day by day," said Jefferson. ''I can run on it, but it's not a good looking run. Portland [on Friday] would be good. That would be lucky."
One of the teammates Jefferson watched practice a number of offensive sets yesterday morning was Kendrick Perkins, who is recovering from a dislocated left shoulder. Perkins did everything in the noncontact drills except take a shot with his left hand. When the team huddled for a quick cheer and put their hands together, Rivers cautioned, ''Perk, don't raise your left arm," but Perkins did anyway.
Rivers still believes Jefferson will return to the lineup before Perkins. He wouldn't rule out either playing on this trip, but he said Perkins was highly unlikely.
''They want to make sure it heals all the way," said Perkins, ''so when I come back I'm 100 percent, so I'm comfortable. If I reinjure it, then I might have to have surgery. So, we're trying to prevent that.
''I'm just trying to stay in shape, so when I can come back I'm ready. It will probably be another week."
Because of a minor illness, Tommy Heinsohn was not on hand for the FSN television broadcast. Jo Jo White took Heinsohn's place beside play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman. Heinsohn will also miss tonight's game against Phoenix.