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Sounds of the game… Celtics 112, Heat 108 OT

03.18.09 at 11:52 pm ET
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Everyone assumed Wednesday’s game between the short-handed Celtics and Miami Heat at the Garden would be a showcase of an NBA MVP candidate. And it was.

While Paul Pierce is almost certainly not going to beat out guys named Kobe or LeBron or even the Heat’s Dwayne Wade, who was a late scratch Wednesday with a right hip flexor, the Celtics captain showed exactly why he is still one of the most feared players in the league.

He scored 36 points and hauled in 11 rebounds and, with the help of Rajon Rondo’s 27 points and 10 assists, led the Green to a gutsy 112-108 OT win against Miami.

“It almost came down to that we had Paul and they didn’t have Wade,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “When Paul was making all the shots, I thought that last shot he took was in too so, it’s a good win for us, right now even when you get what we’re going through is good. I thought a lot of guys, obviously Paul and Rajon, was terrific.”

Pierce looked like the Pierce of 2006-07 when he HAD to be the guy taking all the big shots at the end of games. Like his three-pointer with 2:27 left in regulation to give the Celtics a 96-95 lead. Like his jumper with 1:49 remaining to give the Celtics a 98-97 lead. Like his jumper with 1:23 remaining to give the Celtics a 100-99 lead. Pierce was 6-for-8 in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his team’s 25 points

“When he does that, it’s unbelievable,” Kendrick Perkins said in wonder. “He’s hitting shots, crazy shots. I knew they were in trouble how he came out. When he comes out like that, he’s in attack mode. I was like, ‘Somebody is in trouble tonight.’ He came out just feeling it. He carried us tonight, he and Rondo.”

Pierce was more humble.

“We just needed a win any way we can get it, right now at this point, it seems like bodies are going down left and right, to get our spirits back up,” Pierce said. “We know that we are injured, we know that we are losing guys every other day, but just to get back on the winning mindframe, is big for us, especially when you are going into San Antonio in a couple of days later.  So, this was a big game for us, hopefully on this road trip, we get a couple of bodies back, if not we continue to grind these games out until these guys get better.”

And the captain isn’t about to let his team’s spirits get down, even after losing Ray Allen to a bum elbow and Leon Powe for two weeks with a banged up right knee.

“They’re up,” Pierce said. “That’s the one great thing about this team.  We’ve never been down, we’ve never look at one another, point the finger at one another, and we understand that we just have to keep working.  We’re a team that doesn’t make excuses, that doesn’t cry over spilled milk.  The situation is what it is and we have to go out there and put our hard hats on and our work boots on and continue to work regardless of who’s out there.”

Jermaine O’Neal has seen this all before. He wasn’t surprised by the show Pierce put on against his Heat on Wednesday.

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