BOSTON - Paul Pierce sent the TD Garden crowd into a frenzy when he hit a corner three with 10:23 to play in the third quarter of the Boston Celtics' 94-84 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA.
Of course, it wasn't just an ordinary basket. Pierce's three moved him into second place all-time on the Celtics' franchise scoring list. By doing so, Pierce passed one of the greatest men ever to play the game of basketball and represent Boston, Larry Bird. Naturally, it was a special moment for the longtime Celtics captain.
"It was a relief," said Pierce, who finished the game with 15 points, nine assists an eight rebounds in 37 minutes. "So much was hanging over me for the last couple days just hearing about it and knowing that you've got a game to play. So many people just talk about it and talk about it. Definitely, it's a great feeling knowing that you're going to be up there with the greatest Celtics. Larry Bird would probably be one of the most important players to ever play in this franchise. To have your name up there with him is a great honor."
During the next timeout after Pierce's milestone basket, the Celtics honored him with a video tribute with highlights from his many years with the organization. All throughout, Pierce received a booming ovation from the sellout Garden crowd.
"I saw glimpses of it. Doc [Rivers] was talking during the timeout. You just try to focus in on the game, soak it all in after the game. I'll probably soak it in a bit more once I go home and sit down and realize what's really going on right now. It's so fresh in m head right now."
Pierce scored seven points in the first half, putting him two points shy of tying Bird's mark heading into halftime. Pierce missed his first field goal attempt and finally broke onto the scoreboard with a fastbreak layup from Rajon Rondo with 2:52 left in the first quarter. Pierce scored his next two on a driving layup with 34.6 seconds left in the quarter and got fouled. He made the free throw, placing him four points shy of Bird's scoring mark through 12 minutes of play.
After sitting out the first five minutes of the quarter, Pierce returned and immediately hit a 17-foot jumper on another Rondo assist. He only needed two more points to tie Bird, but he missed several shots down the stretch, including a three at the buzzer, and couldn't reach the milestone before the half.
FInally, after nearly giving the crowd a heart attack with all his misses, Pierce notched history early in the third. Rondo took the ball up court and passed it inside, but the ball was tipped and deflected to the sideline. However, a Bobcats player saved the ball rom going out of bounds but accidentally passed it to Rondo, who found Pierce open for three.
"It's just awesome," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers of Pierce's achievement. "I mean, I told the guys you'[ve got to have several things: One, is longevity. The second thing is health. And then I said the third - and the fourth - the third things is you've got to be old as hell, because you've got to stick around a long time. And then the fourth thing: you've got to ball.You've got to play some amazing basketball. Here, to do what he did, you know, passing Larry Bird - that's impressive."