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James took lessons learned from battles with Pierce

04.04.10 at 11:58 pm ET
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The matchup between Paul Pierce and LeBron James is one of the most competitive battles in the NBA. But before James was dominating the scoreboard, he was trying to learn from his veteran counterpart.

“When I first came into the league, he was a seasoned vet and I was a rookie just trying to learn the curve and things like that,” James said prior to the Celtics 117-113 win over the Cavaliers. “Over the years, he’€™s still been an All-Star, he’€™s still been competitive. I’€™m just trying to develop my game to be one of the best three’€™s (small forwards) in the league, to be on Paul Pierce’€™s level and all these other guys’€˜ level.”

On Sunday, James outscored Pierce, 42-16 (20 of his points came in the fourth quarter alone). It’s a far cry from their first regular-season matchup seven years ago. On Nov. 13, 2003, James ‘€” as a rookie ‘€” scored 10 points in a 91-82 loss to the Celtics. In that one, Pierce, who was entering his sixth season, led the C’s with 19 points.

‘€œYou learn, the game itself teaches you game after game after game,” James said. ‘€œBut you learn when you go against the best, you see why they are considered the best at that time or still now because of the work they put into it. They never took a night off.’€

James is averaging 29.9 points this season (30.6 in his last five contests) and has scored more than 20 points in all but one game since the All-Star Break. He wrapped up his regular season matchup with the Celtics averaging 36.5 points in four games.

‘€œI’€™ve been able to be recognized as one of the best three’€™s that we have in this league,” James added, “So it’€™s always fun to go against the best guys in the league, and Paul continues to be that since I was a rookie.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, Paul Pierce
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