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Even in winning, Paul Pierce admits the refs got the better of him

12.22.10 at 11:34 pm ET
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Paul Pierce started off the night by missing his first seven shots from the field, including a pair of three-point attempts. But that’s not what caused him to admittedly lose his cool in the third quarter, when he was hit with a technical foul by referee Tony Brothers with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Pierce was called for his fourth personal foul, causing him to wave his hand in disgust at Brothers.

“We got frustrated,” admitted Pierce, who finished with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting and four rebounds in 34 minutes. “I got a technical. I know I was frustrated tonight. Just in a game where you’re trying to get rhythm and the game is off-balance and calls are being called each and every way. It’s hard to get into a rhythm so I was definitely frustrated.”

How frustrated? Maybe the most he’s been since he was teamed with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the 2007-08 season. But there was a huge sense of relief, as Pierce raised his arms at midcourt when the final seconds ticked off of Boston’s 14th straight win.

“Nothing was really going our way,” Pierce said. “Nothing was really going my way. This is one of the more frustrating games I’ve had in a long time. It was just – I don’t know – it was just something about this game, for us to pull it out the way we did, I’m very relieved.

“I felt like this was one of our better wins because we didn’t let the frustration get to us all the way. We found a way, we pulled back and this is one of the many ways we’re finding out about our team and tonight we found out even more about our team.”

Doc Rivers agreed with Pierce in one regard. Wednesday night symbolized just how bizarre and unique this winning streak is. The Celtics are not playing their best basketball by any stretch but still winning, making this the oddest extended winning streak he’s seen.

“It is the [oddest] as far as I’ve been concerned or connected with because usually when you’re on a winning streak, everybody’s healthy,” Rivers said. “Everybody’s playing well and you’re rolling. And you can make the case it’s the exact opposite with us. Everybody’s not healthy, and key guys are out.”

It wasn’t just the fouls that were contributing to the frustration. It was the way the Celtics were playing from the start. Their coach could sense it right away.

“We were not very good tonight,” Rivers said. “But we won the game. And that’s the only thing you’ll take from this game tonight is that we won the game. I thought Paul had to work so hard tonight because he had to bring the ball up way too much. But we figured out a way – the bottom line, the difference in the game – was at the end, our group is so used to grinding games out and they won. Other than that I thought Philly did everything right to win the game.”

This wasn’t the first time Rivers has seen Pierce get frustrated and upset when things aren’t going well, whether it’s the officials or missing his first seven shots of the game.

“Well he gets frustrated at times; you know, he’s human,” Rivers declared. “I thought it was probably more from our play overall than the officiating. He knows stuff early; you can hear guys talking that – you know, everybody wasn’t ready to play to start the game. You could feel it, you could see it. That frustrates guys. Especially if they’re ready, you know what I mean? So the good thing about our team, is, though, they hold everybody accountable.”

Just 90 seconds before Pierce’s tech, Kevin Garnett was hit with a technical after he picked up his third foul. Two minutes later, Garnett was whistled for his fourth. Nate Robinson also had four fouls heading into the fourth. All three players managed to avoid fouling out in Boston’s 84-80 win over the 76ers that extended their winning streak to 14 games.

“Sometimes that happens, you let the refs get the best of you and we can’t do that,” Pierce said. “Obviously, it affected my play but somehow, someway we try to grind it out, come back to reality when it counts and find a way to win.”

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