The Truth Trumps Blazers Comeback

By Stephen Alford
Updated: November 11, 2004

Paul Pierce

BOSTON, MASS.—Paul Pierce swished a fadeaway jumper from 21-feet as time expired – and with Ruben Patterson in his face – to give Boston a 90-88 victory over the Trail Blazers at the FleetCenter. Pierce has hit game-winning shots before, but what made this one so impressive is that Pierce was still recovering from seven hours of dental surgery that he received the day of the game against Portland

Ain’t that the Truth.

Pierce, obviously in pain, stayed on the floor for quite a while, and tried to regain his wits while he was on the bench during a Celtic timeout. As the game resumed and the players took the floor, Pierce, still groggy from the blow, was called to perform some last second heroics after Zach Randolph, who scored a game-high 22 points (8-for-18 from the field, 6-for-8 from the free throw line) and grabbed eight rebounds (three offensive rebounds), hit the back end of two free throws to tie the game at 88 with 19.1 seconds to play. Coach Doc Rivers designed a play where Mark Blount would set a pick for Pierce and Pierce would use the screen to get an open look. But, as Blount ran to the backcourt to set up for the screen, Pierce waved him back down to the blocks. As time expired, the Truth pulled up for the jumper, faded back just enough to get the ball over the outstretched hands of Ruben Patterson and nailed the shot, much to the delight of 13,341 live witnesses. The Celtic captain then hopped up on the scorer’s table to bask in the celebration.

“He just keeps doing it,” a delighted Doc Rivers said after the game. “Paul’s been a good leader. He’s been an excellent leader.”

“You know we’re going to give him the ball,” said Gary Payton, who added 15 points (6-for-11 from the field, 1-for-4 from the deep end, perfect two from the line) and six assists. “If they’re going to let (laughingly) Ruben guard him one-on-one up there, we’re going to let him have that. It was a good shot. He’s been doing it all his career. That’s just the tough player that he is and he really got something.”

The victory spoiled a third quarter comeback that was staged by Portland. The Blazers trailed by as many as 20 points (53-33 in the 2nd quarter), but Zach Randolph and Darius Miles combined for 14 third quarter points and helped Portland outscore Boston 25-18. Boston held on to the lead at the end of the third quarter (71-64), but Portland clearly had momentum on their side.

Ruben Patterson gave Portland its first lead of the game courtesy of an alley oop lay-up from Damon Stoudamire (eight assists) with 8:11 remaining in the fourth quarter (73-74).

The lead would go on to change six more times, including The Glove’s 20,000th NBA point when he nailed a shot from beyond the arc to give Boston an 80-79 lead with 5:01 to play in regulation, before the Pierce, who led the Celts with 20 points (6-for-13 from the field, 2-for-4 from beyond the arc, 6-for-9 from the charity stripe) showed the Blazers why he’s dubbed the Truth.

“We had one of our better defenders, if not our best defender, Ruben,” a dejected Coach Maurice Cheeks said after the game. “He made a great shot.”

“I don’t really pay attention to who is defending me,” the Truth said. “I mean I think Ruben Patterson is a good defender but I consider myself one of the best offensive players.”

After tonight, I’m sure Pierce convinced a lot of Portland people too.