Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

January 27, 2014

Pierce, KG return for 1st time as ex-Celtics

(Continued)

Boston —

Pierce seemed more emotional, looking up from the bench as his NBA life was replayed on the screen. From the time the Celtics took him 10th overall in the 1998 draft until last summer’s trade, the player known as “The Truth” had spent his entire career in Boston. In addition to the on-court highlights, which included him receiving the ’08 NBA Finals MVP trophy, Pierce’s video had several scenes of him reading to children and working in the community as well as a clip of Jack Nicholson shouting, “You can’t handle the truth.”
The former Celtics captain waved, raised both hands above his head and clapped and mouthed, “Thank you. I love you.” The crowd stood and cheered for the entire time between the first and second quarters, breaking into a chant of “Thank you, Paul Pierce!”
“As long as I’m in the league it’s going to be tough, because I know I’m going to have to come back to the Boston Garden,” Pierce said. “You put so much energy in one spot, and there’s always going to be memories.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he intentionally called a quick play during the breaks so that his players could watch the tributes.
“Not much in my life is bigger than the next possession, but that is,” he said. “The only thing I can say is what I said on the bench, which is that this town gets it. You know that coming in, but you can feel it on nights like tonight. It was a great tribute to both guys, obviously extremely well-deserved.”
The crowd cheered everything Garnett and Pierce did early on, but it fell silent when Garnett stole the ball from Rajon Rondo and lumbered down for a breakaway layup that gave the Nets a five-point lead with 18 seconds left. Garnett finished with six points and three rebounds, and Pierce scored six on 2-for-10 shooting on the familiar parquet floor.

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