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Mickael Pietrus makes an unexpected return

04.12.12 at 2:37 am ET


The Celtics had clawed back eight-point halftime deficit to take a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Rajon Rondo raced up the floor and spotted Mickael Pietrus just beyond the 3-point line. Marvin Williams raced to close out the open space, but Pietrus set his feet and drilled a 3-pointer to extend the lead.

As Hawks’ coach Larry Drew called a timeout, Pietrus turned to the Garden faithful, held up three fingers, and strutted back to the bench while the crowd cheered. Aided by Pietrus’ unexpected return to the court, the Celtics were able to beat the Hawks, 88-86 in overtime.

It was only 19 days ago that Pietrus lay motionless in Philadelphia after violently hitting the floor following a drive to the basket, resulting in a severe concussion. He was immobile for over 10 minutes and the Wells Fargo crowd grew increasingly somber as players from both teams surrounded the fallen player.

“I fell so hard, it felt like my brain was moving,” Pietrus said. “I didn’t feel good, I was throwing up.”

Over the next two weeks, the Celtics rallied around their various injuries and have made a significant push, peaking just before the start of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Pietrus watched from home, hoping to contribute once he was fully recovered.

“I was laid out for two weeks,” he said. “I couldn’€™t do much. I was trying to rest my brain. I could not watch TV. I could not do anything basically. It’€™s not like an injury that you hurt your knee, you hurt your ankle, it’€™s your brain. You’€™ve got to get your brain right.”

Still, as much as he wanted to be on the court again, Pietrus said he used to the time to reflect on how lucky he was that his injury was not more severe.

“I was thinking about my kids,” he said. “I was thinking about my life. That could have been a different story for me. Today, I’€™m young, I still got my smile. I enjoy life. When I fell I was thinking more about my kids.”

After participating in one-on-one drills yesterday in practice, team president Danny Ainge and the training staff worked Pietrus out this morning. Once he was cleared to play, Doc Rivers said he only expected to use him for five or 10 minutes Wednesday night. But with the roster shorthanded without Ray Allen — who missed the game because of his balky ankle — and the team engaged in an overtime thriller, Pietrus stepped up, logging 29 minutes for the C’s.

“He was great,” Rivers said. “Danny called me today and said they worked him out and he was tried after two minutes. We went in thinking four or five minutes and get him ready for the games coming up. Going into it that was our plan. He actually never looked over and said he was tired. Maybe he was working out on the sly and we didn’€™t know it.”

Overall the performance was everything Rivers, Pietrus, and the Celtics could have hoped for. He gave the Celtics a few timely 3-pointers, solid defense, and a body to turn to off the depleted bench.  However, there were a few anxious moments when Pietrus hit the floor after a few diving lay-up attempts.

“That’s why they call me ‘Air France’, you know?” Pietrus said. “I got to take off, and I have to land.”

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