|Brandon Bass hits a hook shot over Magic defenders Ryan Anderson (left) and Glen Davis in the first quarter. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)|
Pierce hits stride at right time
After Paul Pierce sustained a toe injury during the Celtics’ visit to New Jersey Saturday, the team has been taking extra care with him.
He did not travel to Charlotte Sunday and scored 43 points in a 118-110 loss at New York Tuesday. But Pierce’s status was in doubt before the Celtics’ 102-98 victory over Orlando Wednesday.
“I knew when I got up that I was going to play,’’ Pierce said after producing 29 points and 14 assists. “You know, this is an important game for us trying to wrap up the division. [Rajon] Rondo’s out, Ray [Allen’s] out, Mickael Pietrus was out. And I was going to do everything in my power to try and be ready.
“I was just looking to be aggressive in everything I did - whether it be score the ball, if they collapse on me, find the open man.’’
Pierce topped his career high of 13 for assists, set in a 91-83 win over Orlando Jan. 26, 2003.
“That’s called a good basketball player,’’ coach Doc Rivers said. “He distributes when Rondo’s not there. And we did it the last time, if you remember, when Rondo was out - Paul became like the point forward. He has the ability to do that and very few people can do that.’’
Rondo (back bruise and spasms) also could be out for Friday’s visit to Atlanta, Rivers said. Rondo was injured while contesting a rebound with Tyson Chandler but returned to the court and played 38 minutes at New York.
Allen (ankle) and Pietrus (knee) were also out.
“I don’t know the answer to that,’’ Rivers said of their availability if this were a playoff situation. “I would say no, all three would not play tonight if it was the playoffs.’’
Sasha Pavlovic, who started the opening three games of the season in place of Pierce at forward, paired with Avery Bradley in the starting backcourt.
Allen missed his sixth successive game.
“That’s becoming, obviously, troublesome for us,’’ Rivers said of Allen’s injury. “I don’t know if he will play Friday, we’ve pretty much determined that, as well. After that, we have three or four days, maybe by the Miami game [April 24] we can get him back. I haven’t thought that far ahead [to the playoffs]. But there’s just concern the ankle is not responding - and we need him.’’
Pietrus returned from a March 23 concussion to play three successive games, then missed the New York contest.
“[Pietrus] went from not working out to playing three games in a row and the knee swelled up,’’ Rivers said. “If we could do a do-over, we probably would have had him sit one of those games.”
Davis still a fan
The Celtics’ rally from a 15-17 start to the season did not surprise Orlando’s Glen Davis.
“I know this team, I know the coach, I know the spirit of this team, the culture,’’ said Davis, who played four seasons for the Celtics before being traded. “I never count those guys out.
“I knew for a fact they were going to turn it up and make something happen this year. And they’ve done a good job of putting themselves in a situation to contend.’’
Davis scored 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting against the Celtics.
Kevin Garnett was presented with the Red Auerbach Award trophy before the game . . . Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, KC Jones, Sam Jones, Frank Ramsey, Bill Russell, and Satch Sanders from the Celtics’ 1961-62 NBA championship team were honored at halftime. Garnett greeted Russell’s announcement bowing from the waist and Pierce said: “I joked with ‘Ticket’ [Garnett] that’s going to be us in the few years.’’ “It’s always good to see the foundation come back and see why you do this and see how this thing was built,’’ Garnett said. “I always say those guys are the building blocks for this franchise, if not this organization. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for guys who came before me, and before us. They set the standard and I’m glad to be a part of it.’’ . . . The Celtics will participate in summer league competitions in Las Vegas and Orlando.
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.