Pierce had 12 points in his season debut on Friday, as Boston finally broke into the win column with a 96-85 decision over the Detroit Pistons. A bruised right heel had forced Pierce to sit out Boston's opening road swing through New York, Miami and New Orleans -- all losses.
The Celtics also received a team-high 19 points from Jermaine O'Neal in their home opener against the Pistons. Ray Allen and Brandon Bass each scored 17 for Boston, which dominated the third quarter by outscoring Detroit, 36-21.
"Just having Paul on the floor...the space is so different," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
The Celtics went 15-of-21 from the field in the third quarter, led by nine points from Bass, who made all four of his shots. Because of the prolific shooting, the Celtics turned a seven-point halftime lead into a double-digit advantage and ran away from the Pistons.
"In the third quarter we did a better job of just turning up the energy and taking away easy passes and taking a turnover and turning it into some offense," Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said.
The win enabled Boston to avoid its first 0-4 start since 1969-70.
The Wizards, meanwhile, dropped their third straight to open the season on Friday in Milwaukee when Brandon Jennings scored 22 points, and the Bucks used a strong fourth quarter to record a 102-81 rout of the Wizards.
Jordan Crawford scored 24 points off the bench to lead Washington, which fell to 0-3. John Wall finished with just six points and is struggling mightily so far this season, averaging 13.0 points on 27.0 percent shooting with 4.7 turnovers a night.
After dropping its season-opener against New Jersey by a 90-84 score, Washington had lost its last two games by a combined 39 points.
"We've got to figure it out and we've got to figure it out quick," said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "We can't have it where we have some guys go out and compete or if some guys aren't playing well offensively it takes away the energy defensively."
Washington did manage to split the season series with the Celtics in 2010-11 but Boston has won eight of its past 11 overall with the Wizards.