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Knee surgery shelves Pierce

With procedure, two weeks go down drain

Rasheed Wallace bruised his shoulder in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, but soon returned. Rasheed Wallace bruised his shoulder in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, but soon returned. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / December 24, 2009

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The Celtics will be facing Orlando tomorrow without captain Paul Pierce, who is expected to miss the next two weeks after undergoing minor right knee surgery yesterday.

Pierce was admitted to New England Baptist Hospital for a procedure to drain an infection, the morning after scoring 21 points in a 103-94 win over Indiana.

“Paul felt fine after the game,’’ said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “He felt great. A few hours later there was swelling and pain, and so they put him through some tests [yesterday] morning. Then they went in and they felt like they needed to clean out the infection. It’s nothing structural, and it’s a guess, but they are saying two weeks. I’m always worried when a player gets hurt, but the good news is there was no structural [damage].’’

The status of Kevin Garnett (right thigh bruise) for tomorrow has not been determined, according to Ainge. Garnett was held out of the Indiana game, the first he has missed this season, but traveled with the team to Orlando, Fla., yesterday afternoon.

“I don’t know when for KG,’’ Ainge said. “He may play, but it will be a game-time decision. I think he’s fine - it’s not anything structural. He wanted to play [Tuesday] night but we’re being cautious.’’

The Celtics, also missing Marquis Daniels (left thumb surgery) and Glen Davis (left hand), called up Bill Walker from the Maine Red Claws of the Development League to replace Pierce on the roster.

“Billy has been playing well,’’ Ainge said. “I didn’t want to bring him up right this minute because he’s making great progress and he’s getting a chance to develop there. But now there may be an opportunity for him here.’’

Most of the players were caught off-guard by the decision to rest Garnett against the Pacers. But Rasheed Wallace had advance warning that he might be in the starting lineup for the first time since joining the team.

“No, not really,’’ Wallace replied when asked if he was surprised by getting the start. “KG was telling me his leg was a little sore. It was a 50-50 chance. So I was preparing myself mentally. And I found out anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes before our meeting started.’’

Wallace took the news in stride, submitting 9 points and 13 rebounds in a season-high 36 minutes. Wallace’s availability in the fourth quarter was in doubt after he sustained a bruised right shoulder. But he not only came back, he produced one of the key plays of the game - an offensive rebound and assist on a Pierce 3-pointer for a 93-86 lead with 3:33 remaining.

“It’s cool, nagging injuries,’’ said Wallace, whose arm was wrapped after the game. “Lord knows [how the injury occurred], scuffling around in there with those big guys. It’s a little sore but I’m all right, it’s normal.’’

Wallace showed why he was the Celtics’ No. 1 free agent target in the offseason. He has attempted to fit in as a role player, but against the Pacers he delivered a masterful, veteran performance as a starter. Wallace’s anticipation and guile disrupted the Pacers’ offense. He mostly held his ground near the basket, attempting only eight shots, but did get an impressive breakaway dunk out of an Indiana timeout late in the third quarter.

“That’s what you have to do - it’s a different preparation,’’ Wallace said. “When you’re coming off the bench you’re looking more at the guys that they have coming off the bench. At first, I was more focused on [Tyler] Hansbrough and the guys they have, then I focused on [Roy] Hibbert and [Troy] Murphy and try and do what I can with them.

“That first half, I’m not going to lie, they were kicking our [butts]. They was beating us to loose balls, getting any shot they wanted, getting layups, fast-break points. They were able to pass it without no pressure, going to any spot on the floor. Doc [Rivers] came in here and chewed us out and we knew what we had to do - go out in the second half and apply pressure. We couldn’t give them easy passes and easy buckets.’’

Wallace’s technical foul count this season was reduced to nine after he successfully appealed one from a game at Miami Nov. 29. “No, I’m not happy,’’ Wallace said of the favorable decision. “Because there are still some more that, hopefully, they can look at. That was the only one we were talking about and that one got rescinded that fast because of the referee [Bennett Salvatore]. As for the outcome of the others, I know it won’t be no time soon because of the simple fact it’s on the backburner because of the [collective bargaining agreement] meetings and all that stuff. So I’m not worried about it, yet.’’ . . . The Celtics’ 37 successful free throws (in 40 attempts) Tuesday were their most since they went 38 for 43 in a 116-93 win over Chicago March 7, 2008.

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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