When you have the reputation as one of the best clutch shooters in recent NBA history, you have to live with the occasional failure.
Wednesday night was that occasional moment of frustration for Paul Pierce  as his shot from the right side of the free throw line extended hit the rim but never fell through, allowing the Spurs to escape with a heart-pounding 87-86 win Wednesday night at a breathless TD Garden.
Pierce was making no excuses for taking the inbounds pass from Rajon Rondo  and using the last 7.9 seconds of regulation before missing the shot that would’ve dramatically extended the Celtics  winning streak to six. The play called for Rondo to inbound to Pierce, facing the basket. Pierce then has the option of driving to the basket or recognizing who’s guarding him and drive to a spot to get off an open jump shot.
When he saw Tim Duncan  switch to guard him, Pierce chose the second option. Kevin Garnett  was open but once Pierce put the ball on the floor with a dribble there was no time to get it to him for a clean shot. Instead, Pierce, as he has before dribbled to one of his favorite spots on the court.
“You just play the game and you see what happens, you don’t know what to expect,” Pierce explained. “There are numerous possibilities of things that could have happened when I come off the pick and roll and obviously they switched, they could have trapped, Stephen Jackson  could have stayed on me, but that’s not what I’m thinking about. You play a lot of this game on instinct and the things that happen, they happen on the fly and happen so quick. I like the shot that I took, but at the end of the day it came down to I thought lose balls, they got two huge offensive rebounds late for buckets and to me that killed us.’
‘We got Paul into an iso,” Doc Rivers  said of the trademark isolation play that he has drawn up for Pierce many times before. “He got probably the shot he wanted. He just didn’t make it… and they had a foul to give. So most teams switch. We actually said that they probably would and we were trying to get Duncan on a Paul matchup because we thought we had the speed advantage.”
With a grin on his face, Pierce spoke afterward like a man who’s not going to shy away from doing the exact same thing if the opportunity presents itself as soon as Thursday in Chicago against the Bulls.
“This type of stuff is not really scripted,” Pierce said. “You don’t have an idea of what’s going to happen in those types of situations. You get in those pressure situations and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. But the thing is, I’m not going to second-guess my decision. I thought I got a great shot, created some space right there at the free throw line. It’s just some days they fall, some days they don’t.”
As for his coach, he only had one criticism.
“We wanted him to go a little quicker because I thought he could’ve beat him off the dribble and he would’ve reached the foul line and you know Paul has a knack of getting the ball up,” Rivers said. “But, his step-back is what he wants. I just thought we waited a little too late in the clock.’