I am no longer surprised when Paul Pierce leads the team back from deep deficits for an epic comeback. In fact, it has kinda become his thing. Let's go to the history books.
Paul Pierce's teammates mobbed him at center court until he broke free and jumped atop the scorer's table. Coach Jim O'Brien's ever-present poker face disappeared, the most stoic of NBA coaches pumping his fist to the crowd and walking triumphantly off the court. The Celtics pulled off the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA playoff history Saturday night, with Pierce scoring 19 of his 28 points in the final 12 minutes as Boston overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the New Jersey Nets 94-90.
No team had ever overcome more than a 15-point deficit after the first quarter, and Elias Sports Bureau said it was the largest comeback in the finals since 1971. One thing's for sure, it will forever be remembered in the annals of Celtics-Lakers lore. When the final horn sounded, Pierce, an L.A. kid playing in front of family and friends, doubled over in exhaustion and exuberance. The Celtics, the team he stuck with through 10 years, including a 24-win season in 2006-07, had done the impossible.
And then of course there was last night.
Put another way, Pierce had one fewer second-half bucket than the entire Orlando Magic team (on 22 fewer attempts). Pierce had nine third-quarter points, chipping away at Orlando's 21-point halftime cushion and setting up the improbable final frame. Overall, he contributed a game-high 24 points, overcoming an 0-for-5 start in which he posted a mere five first-half points, with 10 assists over 44:24.
All teams have bad starts where they get into a huge hole early on. Most give up or go through the motions or "play for pride" or stats or whatever. A precious few say, "No, we're not going out like that. We're going to WIN this game." That's our Captain.