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Celtics Notebook

Pierce is scheduled for MRI on foot

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 14, 2011

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Paul Pierce entered yesterday’s game with the Heat nursing a sprained shooting hand, and he left it needing an MRI on his left foot, which was further banged up in the Celtics’ 85-82 win.

Pierce said the foot issues originally crept up a week ago. He sprained the right hand in practice, he said, and banged it again yesterday.

For the first time since 13 games into his rookie season, Pierce took double-digit shots and missed all of them, going 0 for 10 from the floor, 0 for 5 from 3-point range, and 1 for 2 from the line in 40 minutes. He said the hand clearly was a factor.

“I think that really explains my tentativeness and my off shooting,’’ Pierce said. “I told [coach] Doc [Rivers], I really didn’t have it, but I tried to grind it out, and thank goodness we came out with a win.’’

Man with plan Beyond Pierce, the Celtics were low on options for guarding LeBron James, with Marquis Daniels injured (bruised spinal cord), so Rajon Rondo started brainstorming.

James was threatening to put up a triple-double in the first half when Rondo raised his hand, deciding he wanted to be the one to try to put a stop to it.

He and Rivers had talked about it, but it wasn’t the easiest sell considering Rondo was giving up seven inches and nearly 70 pounds.

“I just sort of forced everybody else to join in,’’ Rivers said. “Even [assistant coach] Lawrence [Frank] was like, ‘We can’t do this!’ And I said, ‘You’re right, but we’re just going to keep doing it.’ And it was good for us.’’

James got his numbers (22 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists) but Rondo was in his hair the entire time, making sure he disrupted the two-time Most Valuable Player.

“I’ve never seen nobody make LeBron turn his back to the basket,’’ Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said. “He really didn’t want to put it down on the ground around Rondo. I thought that was huge.’’

James missed 11 shots, going 2 for 5 in the third quarter when the Celtics took control.

“Listen, sometimes you go off the book and today was clearly that,’’ Rivers said. “That matchup made no sense, honestly. And it hurt us a couple times. The only thing I saw honestly is that it gave us life. Because [Rondo] was trying so hard and working so hard.’’

West targets Wednesday Though Delonte West tried to convince Rivers to play him, he will return to the lineup Wednesday against the Nets, getting a chance to reacclimate just before the All-Star break.

West broke his right (non-shooting) wrist in November, and has been rehabbing since.

“I think they’re looking more for the big picture,’’ said West. “They don’t want me to be out there and get injured before it’s right there at the finish line. A few more days and I’ll be going full tilt.’’

Shaquille O’Neal’s inflamed Achilles’ tendon appears to be getting worse. The 38-year-old center was wearing a boot on his right foot as he walked through the locker room.

O’Neal has missed the past six games and 16 overall with a medley of injuries (calf, hip, leg, knee).

Rivers said at Saturday’s practice that he was concerned because O’Neal’s Achilles’ was showing no signs of improvement.

Head in the game Rondo was part investigator, part instigator in the third quarter, going into the Heat’s huddle to possibly snoop out a play.

It all started when Zydrunas Ilgauskas floored Rondo with a screen, leading Kevin Garnett to retaliate by slamming Mike Miller with one of his own on the other end. Dwyane Wade gave Garnett a shove in the lane that he thought would go unnoticed, but he was hit with a flagrant foul.

As players and officials sorted the situation out, Miami was trying to draw a play without calling a timeout.

“I was just trying to see the play,’’ Rondo said. “Nobody called a timeout. They just drew the play up on the court. I wasn’t trying to start anything. I just thought I could get my head in there and see what play they were drawing up.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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