|The Celtics’ Paul Pierce (12 points) put his shoulder into it on this drive against the Raptors’ James Johnson. (Pawel Dwulit/Associated Press)|
Havlicek: Pierce ranks right up there at top
TORONTO - John Havlicek doesn’t follow basketball as closely as he used to. He was in Florida when Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird for second on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list Tuesday, and caught the highlight on TV the next morning.
Havlicek is comfortably the team’s all-time scoring leader with 26,395 points, 4,568 points ahead of Pierce following the Celtics’ 86-74 loss last night to the Raptors. Havlicek said he was pleased to see Pierce reach such a career landmark.
“I never planned on it or anything like that, it just sort of happened,’’ Havlicek said of topping the list. “Paul’s probably the best one-on-one player the Celtics ever had over their great history because I was not by any means a very good one-on-one player. I preferred to use the whole floor and stay in motion and pick up easy baskets and that type of thing.
“But Paul’s one of those players who has uncanny ability to free himself for an open shot any time he wants to.’’
Questions have arisen this week about Pierce’s place in Celtics history. Havlicek ranks among the team’s all-time great players, but was uncomfortable about giving any rankings.
“I don’t place anyone anywhere, I just consider us all family,’’ he said. “Of course, the one player who stands out above anyone else is Bill Russell, and then you can speculate on who the others are. Of course, [Larry] Bird has to be one of them. But if you go beyond that, I don’t know if you can place anyone anywhere in any significant order because it was never important to the players as to where you stood.’’
Havlicek has spent some time around the team in the Big Three era and has developed a friendship with Pierce, who is in his 14th season with the Celtics.
“When he first came here, he was young and the team wasn’t that good and he tried to do a lot on his own, as Antoine Walker did,’’ said Havlicek. “I’m sure he would have preferred to have been with a better team. I came into a great situation where I had all veterans around me. Paul was put in that position early on to carry the team, and when you do that, sometimes it backfires and you have outbursts of unsatisfaction and demand to be traded.
“But once you win a championship and you gather Ray Allen and [Kevin] Garnett around you, he became a totally different personality and player. When that happened, he became even better because he shared that responsibility with someone else.’’
Star in their eyes
Despite shooting 51 percent from the 3-point line and remaining one of the league’s top long-distance threats, Allen was passed up for the All-Star Game. He participated in three All-Star Games in his first four years with the Celtics, missing the 2010 game. He took the decision of the Eastern Conference coaches in stride.
“There have been plenty of years I haven’t made the All-Star team,’’ said Allen, who scored only 6 points on 3-for-8 shooting last night. “Again, the opinion of the people around me, my family, if I don’t make it, they’re always like, ‘Don’t worry, you’re still an All-Star to us,’ and that’s what means the most.
“There’s always guys that are worthy. Nobody ever gets picked for an All-Star team who doesn’t deserve it. You are always celebratory for those guys who do.’’
Bradley pitches in
Avery Bradley was supposed to miss last night’s game with a sore right shoulder after he attempted, painfully, to lift his arm during warm-ups. But with Rajon Rondo playing poorly early, coach Doc Rivers went to Bradley with 1:05 left in the first quarter.
Bradley sparked a Celtics’ run to begin the second quarter and exited with 5:38 left in the half. He did not return.
“He was great,’’ Rivers said. “I should have gone back with him, honestly. Then Rondo started getting it going.’’
Center Jermaine O’Neal (left shoulder) sat out last night as the club continues to be crippled by nagging ailments.
Bradley said he couldn’t remember how he injured his shoulder.
“There was no one particular play [where I was hurt], I think it’s throughout the game just going so hard and not even realizing it,’’ he said. “After the game [Tuesday against Charlotte] it hurt a little bit and the next morning that’s when it started killing me. It’s been the same since.’’
Aches and pains
Keyon Dooling (right hip pointer) and Sasha Pavlovic (sore left wrist) made the trip, but were inactive. Dooling has missed 16 of the last 17 games . . . The Raptors were without Andrea Bargnani for the 15th straight game with a strained left calf, while Jerryd Bayless (who scored 30 points Monday at Washington) was a late scratch with a sore left ankle . . . Although Chris Wilcox missed six games with a sore left calf, he was icing his right calf before the game. He played 22 minutes, contributing 4 points and five rebounds . . . Toronto hadn’t beaten the Celtics by double digits since Jan. 12, 2005.