The night was March 7, 2006 and the Celtics, winners of just 24 games up to that point (my how the times change) were in Washington, battling a Wizards squad that featured a healthy Gilbert Arenas, along with Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler.
Now if you'll recall, Pierce was having an abysmal night from the field. It just wasn't happening for Paul for the better part of the first four quarters. If memory serves he was 4-16 from the field through regulation. The Wizards weren't a spectacular team, but neither were we. So when we found ourselves facing a hefty deficit late in the fourth quarter with our best player having arguably his worst game of the season, you can probably guess why we were thinking this one wasn't going to end well. Heck, Orien Greene was our starting point guard, to put things in perspective.
But that team surprised itself that night, along with all of us. Young fledgling Al Jefferson along with...wait for it...wait for it...MICHAEL OLOWOKANDI (!) led a ferocious fourth quarter comeback that somehow spawned overtime. Pierce, apparently numb with shock (Michael Olowokandi?!?), forgot about his shooting woes and (if memory serves) proceeded to go 4-4 in overtime.
His two most important buckets of the night were the last two, because each gave Boston a vital lead when it absolutely needed it. The first was a three-pointer with, I want to say, 16.5 seconds left, which gave Boston a 114-113 edge after being down by two. Then, Arenas, not wanting to be outdone, buried a short pull up just outside the free throw line on the left side with less than 10 seconds to play. 115-114, Washington.
But our captain would have the last word (he tends to do that). Pierce took the ball above the three-point arc, let the clock dribble itself away, went left with four seconds left (and I'm in my basement thinking he might have waited just a second too long to make his move), got around Butler, only to have Arenas come to double, forcing Pierce to the corner and a tough fadeaway that floats...and floats...and the red light goes off...BAM! Swish. Nothing but net. Celtics win.
I was alone in my basement, just freaking out. I just lost it on this one. I'm proud to say it was one of my top-five all-time buzzer beater freak out moments. I still remember Mike Gorman's call:
"Pierce...looking to move on Butler...Arenas there to double...Pierce...difficult shot...GOT IT! AT THE BUZZER! PAUL PIERCE WINS THE GAME!" Classic Mike Gorman right there. And in case you forgot about this game, or just want to watch it again like I did, here it is:
Here's hoping for a slightly easier win this evening.