Paul Pierce said that riding the bench in the fourth quarter might be his new role, causing reporters to crack up in the locker room.
But he wasn’t kidding.
After missing the first three games of the season, in which the Celtics went 0-3, the Celtics have won their last four games and Pierce has only played in one of those fourth quarters (the final 5:28 against the Wizards Monday).
With a comfortable 63-47 lead through three periods, coach Doc Rivers had an easy decision to bench Pierce.
“He’d played too many minutes at that point anyway,” Rivers said. “He was already at 29, I think, so I was going to not put him in no matter what the score was until the last five — if they had made a run. … I mean, he’s still working his way back.”
Pierce scored 24 points in three quarters tonight against the Nets, shooting 8 of 14 from the field and 3 of 5 from long distance. He also had six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one turnover. Pierce isn’t complaining.
“It’s good though, it’s giving me a lot of added rest, especially with a season like this, games so compact, that I’m able to sit in the fourth quarter is saying a lot about what we’re doing in the first three quarters,” he said.
The Celtics haven’t faced the stiffest competition in this four-game winning streak. They beat the winless Wizards twice, the 2-4 Pistons and tonight the 1-5 Nets.
Pierce spoke highly of shooting guard Avery Bradley, who had 11 points on 50 percent shooting and two steals in 23 minutes.
“He works so hard, he’s a guy who can really defend the ball about as good as anybody in the NBA. If he can do that and then if he’s able to knock down shots, open shots from distance, he can be a hell of a player in this league,” Pierce said of Bradley, the Celtics’ first-round draft pick in 2010.
Rivers agreed that Bradley provided a boost off the bench.
“I thought Avery was sensational tonight,” he said. “You know, he missed some shots early and a lot of people have been making a lot of talk about his shots, but his defense was infectious.”