Players and coaches from each team had vastly different viewpoints on Paul Pierce’s injury after tonight’s game.
Pierce got tangled with teammate Kendrick Perkins at the 6:52 mark in the third quarter, falling to the floor in a heap before being carried off the court and into the locker room. He returned a few minutes later to the loudest ovation of the night from the Garden crowd.
To Celtics players and coaches, this was a big moment.
“It was great to see him come back,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “Obviously we were concerned when he went down. A guy grabs his knee, you know, there’s no good thoughts. I was really proud, honestly, of our team during the stretch when he was in the locker room. I thought that was the biggest part of the game. We could have easily felt sorry for ourselves. We actually made a little run there. But then when he came out he was big for us.
“Obviously him coming back lifted us up.”
Perhaps playing psychologist, Lakers coach Phil Jackson seemed to take exception with the notion that Pierce’s injury made any difference in the game.
“You know, you don’t know what happens,” said Jackson. “Guys can break a shoelace and go out, the pants break down, drawstring falls apart. You don’t know what happens to guys. Pierce was back on the floor in three minutes, so he wasn’t that long out of the game. He came back and hit two threes. I think that was a big momentum change in the game.”
Pierce said he heard a pop in his knee when he went down and feared the worst – a tear.
“Usually when I go down, I’m getting right back up,” said Pierce. “But it was an instance where I turned my knee and it popped, heard it pop, and I was just in pain where I just couldn’t move.”
To see Pierce go from that point, to the point where he hit consecutive three-pointers, was huge for the team, according to Kevin Garnett.
“When he came out, you just heard the roar of the crowd,” said Garnett. “He was walking, he was up on his own strength, and he rejuvenated us, I think to the point where he gave everybody life. Our defense picked up a little bit.”
That never happened, according to Lakers guard Derek Fisher.
“I don’t know how much him coming back really changed the energy in the game,” said Fisher. “I don’t know if when he came back there was much of a difference. I think they actually were playing pretty good while he was out, more so even when he came back.”
No matter who’s perspective you take, the big postgame news was that Pierce said he isn’t sure if he will be able to play in Game 2.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I mean, it’s in pain. I was able to get through tonight. I don’t know if it was off adrenaline or what, but got through it.”