LOS ANGELES — Paul Pierce’s 38 points were the lone bright spot for the Celtics in a 103-98 loss to the Lakers Sunday night at Staples Center. Pierce was 10-of-22 from the floor and made 16 of 19 free throws.
“Paul is one of my favorite players in the league,” said Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. “He’s tough. There’s not a lot of players that have a well-rounded offensive game. What I mean by that, he’s got a good mid-range game, long ball, pull up to the hoop, pull up left, pull up right. He has the whole package.
“I enjoy watching him play, I enjoy playing against him, and he’s fantastic. As far as tonight, he did what a great player does. He attacked and saw opportunities to keep his team in the ballgame, and that’s what he did.”
Pierce offered a simple breakdown of his performance after the game.
“I notice when I’m aggressive, everybody else is aggressive,” said Pierce. “So I just wanted to make plays. I feel like I have an advantage night in and night out. That’s all I do, try to get to the rim and take advantage of my opportunities.”
Even one of the best coaches in NBA history says he has a hard time coming up with a scheme to stop Pierce.
“He’s strong,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. “He’s able to make some step-throughs or some pivots that get him by our defenders. He got eight assists on top of us trying to rotate and go to him and help out against him, so he’s even making plays and becoming a play-maker. This is something we’re going to have to figure out and do a better job of that.”