On an afternoon when Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro didn’t exactly cover himself in glory, his veteran wingman Grant Hill  had high praise for the coach in the locker room across the hall.
Del Negro opted not to foul Celtics  Courtney Lee  or Paul Pierce  in the final 26.6 seconds of a 103-101 game. As a result, Lee delivered the ball to Pierce, who dribbled the clock down before sinking a game-clinching 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining. And the Clippers coach wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“I wouldn’t foul him there,” said Del Negro. “I wouldn’t want to foul Paul Pierce there. It was right on the number. We’ve done it both ways. If we get a stop there, we have three or four seconds to go. We’ve got plenty of time in a two-point game. If I was going to do it, I would’ve foul Courtney Lee early right when he got the ball, but you play the percentages. We went back and forth with it. We just felt like we could get it done.”
Lee (88.6 FT%) is actually shooting better from the free throw line this season than Pierce (78.8 FT%), and while the latter has made just 38.3 percent of his isolation attempts this winter, even if Pierce missed his shot with 2.6 seconds left, the Clippers would still have had to track down a long rebound and call timeout.
‘If coach addressed that,” said Hill, “then I don’t need to address it.’
The 40-year-old Hill played two seasons against Celtics coach Doc Rivers  as a player and then three-plus years under the former Magic coach in Orlando from 2000-03.
“Doc’s a good friend and somebody who I’ve enjoyed getting to know — him and his family. I competed against him as a player and obviously played a little bit for him,” said Hill, who of course attended Duke, where Doc’s son Austin Rivers played his lone college season. “He’s just a good man. He’s come up here and had tremendous success, and you’re happy that he’s been able to establish himself as one of the better coaches in the league.”
Over four seasons and change, Rivers built a .504 record (171-168) in Orlando, winning NBA Coach of the Year honors his first season and leading the Magic into the first round of the playoffs in his final three full seasons. In Rivers, who was only in his late 30s and early 40s then, Hill recalled a guy with a unique ability to reach young talent (i.e., Mike Miller ), budding superstars (i.e., Tracy McGrady ) and aging legends (i.e., Patrick Ewing ).
“He’s been a player,” said Hill, whose relationship with Rivers has long kept Boston on his short list of potential landing destinations. “He knows what it’s like to lace them up. He’s a great communicator. He holds people accountable. He’s honest. The communication is really one of his strong points. It seems like he was a young coach not too long ago, and now he’s a veteran coach who’s put together a nice resume.
“It’s people skills,” finished Hill, “being able to communicate and understand how to connect and what resonates with each guy, and he’s really good at that.’