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Isaiah Thomas reacts to Paul Pierce calling him a ‘Championship-type player” 02.04.17 at 4:25 pm ET
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Feb 10, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots against Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce acknowledges Isaiah Thomas as one of the league’s great scorers (David Butler II/USA Today)

Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas found out on Friday that a future Hall of Famer thinks the 5-foot-9 guard has what it takes to win an NBA title.

In a recent one-on-one interview with Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Paul Pierce commented on this season’s Celtics team and called Thomas a “championship-type player.” The former Celtics captain said that he believes that Thomas, along with the intelligence and guidance of head coach Brad Stevens, have a chance to compete for a championship one day. 

A smile stretched across Thomas’ face when he found out what the Celtics legend had to say about him. 

“I didn’t know that,” Thomas said. “That means everything. From a first-ballot Hall of Famer, a Celtics legend, to say that about me, that means a lot. Like I always say, I don’t care what anybody says but my peers and the people who did it before me. For a guy like that to say that, that’s crazy.”

In light of Pierce playing his final game at TD Garden on Sunday, Thomas added: 

“I’m going to try to find his jersey, so I can get it signed.”

After a 38-point performance in Friday’s win over the Lakers, Thomas is now averaging 29.9 points per game, less than one point away from Russell Westbrook’s league-leading 30.8 point average. 

The last Celtics player to finish a season averaging 29.9 points per game was Larry Bird back in the 1987-88 season. 

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Isaiah Thomas (38 points), Celtics beat Lakers, reach franchise milestone 02.03.17 at 11:43 pm ET
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Feb 3, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket past Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov (20) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas (38 points) has now scored 30-plus points in four consecutive games (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

The Boston Celtics now have the most wins in NBA history.

In a showdown between two of the league’s most storied franchises, the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 113-107 and set the NBA team record for most cumulative regular-season wins. 

Both teams entered Friday’s contest at TD Garden tied at 3,252 all-time regular-season victories before Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics fended off their opponent in the final frame and improved to 32-18. Thomas finished with a game-high 38 points and poured in 17 fourth-quarter points to push the Celtics to their sixth consecutive win. 

With 3:50 left, the Lakers pulled to within seven points (101-94) and gave up a golden opportunity to make it a four-point game after the C’s surrendered three offensive rebounds. Boston allowed Louis Williams and D’Angelo Russell each take turns jacking up four straight 3-pointers until Al Horford finally pulled down a defensive rebound — which led to Thomas scoring four straight points.

From there, the Celtics held on.

Jae Crowder finished with 18 points and Jaylen Brown added 12 points to go with his 7 rebounds while Horford flirted with a triple-double (11 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists). 

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Isaiah Thomas,
Isaiah Thomas named Eastern Conference Player of the Month 02.02.17 at 11:07 pm ET
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Feb 1, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas is the first Celtics player since Paul Pierce to win the Eastern Conference Player of the Month (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

This month, Isaiah Thomas made the decision easy for the NBA. 

After putting together one of the greatest scoring months in franchise history, Thomas was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month on Thursday.

Leading the Celtics to a 10-4 record, Thomas averaged 32.9 points and 6.9 assists throughout the month of January and is now the first Celtics player since Paul Pierce (March of 2012) to take home the award.

In light of Wednesday’s 44-point performance, Thomas also stretched his streak of scoring 20 or more points to 33 consecutive games. 

He’s also been invited to participate in All-Star Saturday night’s Skills Challenge. Thomas will compete against a combination of guards and big men including Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, John Wall, Devin Booker, Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid on February 18 in New Orleans.

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Isaiah Thomas (44 points) leads comeback win over Raptors, with help from supporting cast at 12:22 am ET
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Feb 1, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) and forward Jae Crowder (99) celebrate after Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) was called for a foul during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Rozier earned some late-fourth quarter minutes in comeback win against Raptors (Winslow Townson/USA Today)

The unsung heroes set the stage. And then Isaiah Thomas, as he seems to do on a nightly basis, danced on it.

Trailing by 18 points in a showdown with the Raptors for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics closed the game on a monster 52-29 run behind 44 points from their All-Star point guard to complete a 109-104 victory.

Thomas put together another incredible fourth quarter, scoring 19 of his 44 points, but the Celtics reserves set the stage for his heroics. Led by Marcus Smart (10 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds), the bench helped chip away at a double-digit deficit and carried their momentum into the fourth quarter. 

Throughout the third quarter, Smart applied pressure on Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and finished strong on the offensive end by making cuts to the basket for easy layups. He was also finding his teammates for easy assists but was most effective in disrupting the flow of Toronto’s offense. 

Terry Rozier, who finished with 5 points and 7 rebounds, nailed a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to pull the Celtics to within eight. He also pulled down two offensive rebounds in the second half to keep possessions alive and slowed down the Raptors’ reserve guards on the defensive end. Tyler Zeller, who finished with five rebounds and four points, made a reverse dunk and tossed an alley-oop to rookie Jaylen Brown to trim the deficit down to five (91-86).

From there, Thomas went on a 7-0 run — giving the Celtics their first lead with 4:39 left. 

However, Lowry, who led the Raptors with 32 points, helped his team regain the lead by draining five straight points for Toronto. With 48 ticks left, Thomas knocked in a 3-pointer to give the C’s a two-point lead before Patrick Patterson missed a 3-pointer and the Raptors were forced to intentionally foul the Celtics in the final seconds.

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Read More: Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Raptors
Isaiah Thomas (41 points) wraps up one of the highest-scoring months in Celtics history with another incredible 4th quarter in win over Pistons 01.31.17 at 4:35 pm ET
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Jan 30, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) is congratulated after making a three point basket during the second half of the Boston Celtics 113-109 win over the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas scored the last 11 points for the Celtics in Celtics’ 113-109 win over Pistons (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY)

Topping off one of the best scoring months in franchise history, Isaiah Thomas’ 24-point fourth quarter performance against the Pistons was an emphatic exclamation point to an amazing month of January. 

The two-time All-Star scored a game-high 41 points in a 113-109 Celtics win over the Pistons at TD Garden, leading his team to their fourth straight victory and ultimately guiding them to a one-game lead ahead of the Raptors (29-19) for second place in the Eastern Conference.

His 41 points on Monday pushed his average up to 32.9 points per game for the month of January — the fourth-highest scoring month in Celtics history behind Larry Bird (twice) and Paul Pierce. 

“That doesn’t even seem real,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t sound real. So many great players who did it before me, to have my name up there with those legends is unbelievable. I’m going to just keep going, keep trying to catch those guys, and keep winning.”

The Celtics (30-18) win also sets the stage for Wednesday night’s big showdown between the two best teams in the Atlantic Division. The Raptors have had the Celtics’ number throughout the season — beating them twice over the last two months. But if Thomas can continue this amazing streak of excellence that he’s on, it could be enough for the Celtics to pull out a win against DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and company. 

Along with averaging 32.9 points in January, Thomas also set a season-high average of 6.9 assists per game. Jae Crowder, one of many of Thomas’ beneficiaries in the starting lineup, is also finishing his best month of the season — averaging 16.3 points while shooting 50.3 percent from the floor, including 46.6 percent from behind the arc.

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Isaiah Thomas loses tiebreaker, so Celtics guard won’t start All-Star Game 01.19.17 at 9:57 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas has earned superstar status. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas has earned superstar status. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas feeds off doubters, which means he won’t be going hungry this All-Star season.

Starters were announced for the NBA All-Star Game on Thursday, and Thomas wasn’t among them. The Celtics guard, who currently ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring, lost a tiebreaker to Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and will likely be a reserve when full rosters are announced.

In the voting of fans, players, and media, Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was the runaway winner. Thomas actually won the media vote, but DeRozan prevailed among fans and players, leaving the two deadlocked. Because the fan vote counts for 50 percent of the total, it was the first tiebreaker, and DeRozan outpaced Thomas there by just over 40,000 votes, 796,122-755,102 to claim the starting nod.

Regardless, it’s been a monster first half for the diminutive star, who’s averaging 28.7 points per game, including a league-best 10.1 in the fourth quarter.

Thomas wasn’t the only star snubbed. In the Western Conference, MVP candidate Russell Westbrook will be a reserve, despite averaging a triple-double thus far (30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 10.4 assists). The starting guard slots in the West went to Golden State’s Steph Curry and Houston’s James Harden.

The other Eastern Conference starters are Cleveland’s LeBron James, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the West, Curry and Harden will be joined by San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Golden State’s Kevin Durant and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis.

Read More: All-Star rosters, Celtics, DeMar DeRozan, Greek Freak
Celtics learn lesson the hard way that Isaiah Thomas won’t save them every fourth quarter 01.18.17 at 11:09 pm ET
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It was his time to shine.

Down 88-84 entering the fourth quarter, it was the prime moment for Isaiah Thomas to again take control and carry the Celtics to a victory over the lowly Knicks.

The problem was, he didn’t. It’s not his fault, it was simply human nature, he couldn’t save the Celtics seemingly every game. And while there was anxious anticipation that someone would step up and pick up the slack, no one did. Instead of taking control and ending the game with a bang, it ended quietly, with the Knicks running out the clock as players shook hands with time still remaining. The Celtics had dug themselves an an 11-point hole and never climbed out of it.

While not a great effort, the Celtics aren’t ready to believe it is because they rely purely on Thomas to take care of things late in the game.

“I don’t know, I didn’t get that impression necessarily,” said head coach Brad Stevens. “But I think that we didn’t play at a level of flying around that we need to for the first three or the fourth, maybe there was some of that. I don’t know.”

Thomas finished with eight points in the quarter, 39 on the night. A far cry from a poor performance by any measure.

From big man Al Horford’s perspective, there seemed to come a point where things ultimately became more chaotic than structured.

“I don’t know if [we were] necessarily discouraged, but towards the end, yeah. Like two or three minutes to go it was hard,” said Horford. “But I think that we, I guess we kind of steer away from our stuff and executing and we kind of start doing our own stuff a little bit. That’s a little normal sometimes, when adversity hits everybody wants to pick it up and do their part, and I think that could’ve been the case tonight.”

Thomas, not one to run from blame, acknowledged his shortcomings. After a mesmerizing first three periods in which he seemed to never be able to miss what looked like impossible layups, he eventually went quiet.

He went 2-for-9 in the fourth quarter, never finding the rhythm that led him to such success early on.

“It happens,” Thomas said. “I can’t make every shot, [but] I’m going to keep being aggressive, that’s what my team needs. I missed a few shots I usually make.”

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