BOSTON – This time, Paul Pierce picked up his teammates.
One game after being carried off the floor following a scary — but ultimately insignificant — knee injury, the Celtics forward scored 28 points to lead Boston to a 108-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA finals.
Pierce hit a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left after Los Angeles cut a 24-point deficit to just two points, 104-102. The Lakers tried a quick 3-pointer, but Pierce partially blocked Sasha Vujacic's shot to protect the lead.
Pierce also had eight assists and four rebounds.
The captain and longest-tenured member of the team, Pierce was carried off the floor by teammates after colliding with Kendrick Perkins under the basket during the third quarter of Game 1. He rode a wheelchair the rest of the way to the locker room, but once he got there he realized he wasn't that hurt after all.
Coming back into the game — he missed only 1 minute, 45 seconds — he drained back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Celtics the lead for good as they coasted to a 98-88 victory.
But in the sequel the only one Pierce was hurting was the Lakers.