NEW YORK: Retiring NBA star Paul Pierce made an emotional farewell appearance in Boston on Sunday (Monday in Manila), sinking the final basket for the Los Angeles Clippers in their 107-102 loss to the Celtics.
Pierce, a 10-time NBA All-Star, played 15 seasons for the Celtics and was the 2008 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in leading Boston to the title.
The 39-year-old forward kissed the middle of the Boston Garden court before making a rare start for the Clippers, playing the first five minutes as the Celtics seized a 15-6 lead.
Pierce shed tears from the bench as the crowd gave him a standing ovation during a video
highlight display, fans chanting “We Want Paul” and “Thank You Paul” much of the second half.
Their screams were rewarded when Clippers coach Doc Rivers called upon Pierce with 20 seconds remaining and he responded by making a three-pointer, extending his run of having never gone scoreless in Boston.
“I’m thankful he gave me that opportunity and that I got out here and made a bucket,” Pierce said. “Truly great to play for the best fans in the world for 15 years and they showed it tonight. They just showered me with love.”
Pierce, second on the Celtics all-time scoring list, has averaged 20.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals a game for his 18-year NBA career, including stops in Brooklyn and Washington as well as LA. But nowhere loves him more than Boston.
“I’ve been enjoying every moment of it,” Pierce said. “Great fans. They have enjoyed everything I have been able to do. It’s great to come in here one last time and get all this attention.”
Isaiah Thomas scored 28 points to lead the Celtics, who took a club-record 52 3-point shots and made 16 of them, while the Clippers, who never led, had 23 points each from Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford.
The Celtics improved to 33-18, second in the Eastern Conference by two games to defending NBA champion Cleveland, and stretched their win streak to seven games. The Clippers fell to 31-20, fifth in the Western Conference.
A hard-earned triple double
Toronto’s Kyle Lowry shrugged off illness and stitches for his ninth triple-double with 15 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds, sparking the Raptors over the Brooklyn Nets 103-95.
Prior to the NBA matinee matchup, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Lowry was feeling “under the weather” and the Raptors point guard added to his misery during the game, needing four stitches on his right forearm after colliding with a camera attached to a stanchion near the basket.
Lowry played 40 minutes for the Raptors, who were without star DeMar DeRozan for a seventh game due to a right ankle sprain.
Jonas Valanciunas led the Raptors with 22 points, making 9-of-17 shots from the floor, and shut down Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez, who had 20 points for the Nets, who suffered their ninth consecutive loss.
The NBA-worst Nets fell to 9-42 while the Raptors improved to 31-21, fourth overall in the Eastern Conference.
Westbrook scores 42 in win
NBA scoring leader Russell Westbrook scored 42 points to power the Oklahoma City Thunder over visiting Portland 105-99. The star playmaker averages 30.8 points a game for Oklahoma City, which improved to 30-22, seventh in the Western Conference.
Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 27 points as Portland slid to 22-29, one loss behind Denver for the eighth and final West playoff spot.