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01/30/2011 - 22:12
Truth Unstoppable in Win Over Lakers
by Devon Jeffreys

It was only a regular season game, and yet everything about the performance of Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics said otherwise.

The Truth returned to his hometown Sunday and powered the Celtics to a 109-96 road victory over their archrivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. By all accounts, No. 34 was sensational, tallying a team-high 32 points on 11-of-18 field goals, including a trio of critically timed three pointers.


Paul driving against Kobe Bryant (Getty Images).

If the Captain wanted to make a statement in the team's first return to Staples Center, the site of last year's Game 7 Finals defeat, he did precisely that.

"It was another game, but it was definitely an emotional game," Paul said. "You win the game here now and it's not for the championship, but the guys were really up for the game. We played against the Lakers. It really gets our juices going knowing that they're our rivals. It was a big game to come in this building and get a win."

From the opening tip, Paul played with the kind of focus one would expect in a regular season contest of this magnitude, scoring 16 points in the first half. Los Angeles led by four at the break, but as Celtics coach Doc Rivers explained afterward, it would have been more if not for the Truth's sharpshooting.

"At that point we needed Paul," said Rivers. "We just needed Paul in that stretch."

ARTEST: NO CONTEST

One of the most remarkable aspects of Paul's performance Sunday was noted by the Los Angeles Times. The Lakers' premier defender, Ron Artest -- brought to Los Angeles precisely to stop players like the Truth -- did little to slow No. 34.

"[Paul] played really good. He really gave it to me tonight," Artest said.

Artest was so askew Sunday that [Lakers coach Phil] Jackson was asked whether the 12-year veteran got lost on the way to the game.

"No, he was on time. He got lost on the court," Jackson retorted.

Paul Flannery of WEEI.com put things a little more bluntly.

The Captain destroyed his antagonist from last year’s finals...There was nothing Artest could do to contain Pierce, who had both his long-range and in-between game working.

The Celtics were overwhelming in the second half, but Pierce kept them in position throughout the game in what might have been his best performance of the season.


Paul got top billing across the Web.

The win was the 36th of the season for Boston, and was a solid bounce back from a Friday night loss in Phoenix. Paul, who scored 14 points in the loss to the Suns, was glad the team could get back on track so quickly.

"When we play together, we're a tough team to beat, Paul said. "The inspiration was to get a win. That's all it is right now. We're trying to gather these wins. You never know when it's going to come down to the end of the season, home-court advantage, never know who we're going to be fighting, the Lakers, this is a tie-breaker. There are so many things in this game, so it was definitely a big game, especially against a team that's going to have a chance to be there in the end. "If we had home court last year, who knows maybe what happens in Game 7? We're not looking ahead, but maybe if it comes down to another Game 7, maybe we'll have it at home."

In addition to his 32 points, Paul added five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in the win over LA.

NEXT UP

Boston wraps up a four-game road trip on Tuesday in Sacramento against the Kings. In honor of Black History Month, the Truth is expected to don these limited edition kicks. Tip-off from Sacramento's Arco Arena is at 10 p.m. EST. Catch all the action on CSN.

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