Celtics coach Doc Rivers had fun with the notion that his team purposely went into overtime to allow Paul Pierce to earn his 20,000th NBA point tonight.
“Yeah, we just thought we needed to,” said Rivers. “You know, not execute for about four, five minutes in the game, send it into overtime because we wanted to get it out of the way tonight. It was very important for us.”
Pierce had just 16 points through the end of regulation. Needing 23 points and running out of time, toward the end of the fourth quarter it looked as though Pierce would have to wait until Friday night to crack 20,000.
“Coming into the game I knew it,” said Pierce. “But I didn’t want to press it. I knew I needed 23 I think tonight to get it, I knew once I got to 22 I looked up and it was a great opportunity.”
The points that put Pierce over the top came on a pair of free throws that put the Celtics up 101-97 with 13.3 seconds remaining in overtime. The game was still very much on the line at that point, making the milestone at once overshadowed and more significant.
“When I thought about it it wouldn’t have felt this good if we didn’t get the win,” said Pierce. “So I tried to keep my composure, relax, take deep breathes, and I got the throws.
“You know it was an emotional moment for me, tough for me to swallow. I was just thinking about all the years I have been here, and you don’t see it to often where a player accomplishes that kind of feat playing with one team. It is a great accomplishment you know the fans seeing my ups and downs throughout the years and sticking with me. Just to be able to accomplish this type of feet it means a lot to me. I am not going to downplay it.”