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Friday, February 8, 2013

Celtics toy with struggling Lakers in 116-95 win at TD Garden

BOSTON – Paul Pierce scored 24 points and led a third-quarter surge as the Boston Celtics routed the Los Angeles Lakers 116-95 on Thursday night, improving to 6-0 since losing point guard Rajon Rondo for the season with a torn knee ligament.

The Lakers had cut a 58-44 halftime deficit to 72-61 with 5:07 left in the third quarter. ...

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BOSTON – Paul Pierce scored 24 points and led a third-quarter surge as the Boston Celtics routed the Los Angeles Lakers 116-95 on Thursday night, improving to 6-0 since losing point guard Rajon Rondo for the season with a torn knee ligament.

The Lakers had cut a 58-44 halftime deficit to 72-61 with 5:07 left in the third quarter.

Then the Celtics went on a 23-8 run and led 95-69 going into the fourth.

Pierce started the surge with a three-point play and ended it with a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left, giving him 12 points in the period.

Kobe Bryant scored 27 to lead the Lakers, who suffered their worst loss of the season despite the return of Dwight Howard after he missed three games with a sore right shoulder.

Pierce committed to plan

Before we get to the part that is certain to be sliced, diced and placed under an electron microscope – comments that will invite words to be read between their lines – it is important to know this: Paul Pierce is thoroughly committed to the Celtics and what they’re presently trying to do.

Even with Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger down and out for the season, the captain still believes . . . even as he acknowledges the possibility that what comes next may not be conducive to his own goals and may force him to finish his career elsewhere.

But back to now. Pierce is intent on leaving an omelet on the face of all those who think the Celts are sunk.

“No doubt,” he said Wednesday of his motives. “I honestly feel this team could do something special beyond what anybody could probably believe.”

I feel like the talent that’s in this room, based on when I look at the East – even with the circumstances with the injuries – can still win. When I see how we play against a Miami and I see how we play vs. the Clippers and just what we’ve got, I still feel like we can compete with anybody in the league.

“You know, this could be one of those special stories that come around every so many years.”

Still, while a short time later, Kevin Garnett continued to be more cryptic about his own situation, Pierce spelled out his clearly. Sitting precisely where he had 10 months earlier when he told the Herald he would consider retirement following the 2011-12 season, he said the matter will again be open.

“I’m at the point in my career where I’ve got to evaluate it each and every year,” Pierce said. “It’s all based on the situation and based on what I want out of this game still. I mean, I’ve still got a lot of love for the game. I’m still very motivated. But there’s other factors.

“I mean, I really don’t want to be part of a rebuilding situation again. I just think at this point in time that’s something that would wear on me too much mentally that I don’t know what decision I may make if I have to. I may retire if I have to. You know, that’s something that’s a year-end process, especially given the situation that we have right now.”

According to Pierce, his call will be dictated by the direction the Celtics take moving forward. And while he has stated strongly that he would like to end his career with the club, he opened the door wide to the possibility he could finish elsewhere.

“It’s all on what they plan on doing,” Pierce said. “If they try to go into a rebuild mode, then, you know, I don’t know if I want to be a part of that. But that’s up to them and what they need to do. I don’t want to go out on a rebuild mode.

“I want an opportunity to at least try to win another championship, simple and plain. And if that’s not going to be here – if that’s going to be somewhere else – so be it. That’s what it has to be. I mean, even the greatest players played for other franchises.

“And sometimes it’s not about the player; it’s about the franchise moving forward and doing what they feel is best for them. And players have their agendas, too, as far as older players as they wind down their career wanting to finish on successful teams.”

Pierce still believes he could accomplish that with the Celtics, but it’s fair to say, too, he knows where his suitcase is should management decide to take the club in a reconstructive direction.