Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics look to tie their season-high winning streak at three games, while Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors try to rebound from an embarrassing loss when the teams meet for the first time this season.
Pierce helped Boston snap a four-game losing streak Monday with 24 points in a 117-101 win over Orlando. He scored 23 in Wednesday’s 101-100 victory over Milwaukee, including a late 3-pointer after briefly being taken out of the game and arguing with coach Doc Rivers.
Pierce was lifted with just over 4 1/2 minutes to play and the Celtics holding a 92-91 lead. He appeared agitated when Jiri Welsch came in for him, and Rivers and Pierce briefly yelled at each other.
After a chat in the huddle between Pierce and Rivers during a timeout, Pierce returned and hit his 3-pointer on Boston’s first possession, giving the Celtics a 97-93 lead with 2:40 to go.
Rivers said he was upset because he didn’t think Pierce was heading out quickly enough on the fast-break chances.
“There really was no issue, except for I wanted everybody to run the floor,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think he was running the floor on the last couple of possessions.
“I don’t mind him being upset at all. The game’s a fiery game, and it’s an emotional game. I made my point and I put him back in the game, and he made a big shot for me.”
When Pierce walked back onto the court, veteran teammate Gary Payton spoke to him briefly before setting him up for his 3-pointer from the right wing.
“Paul is a competitor,” Payton said. “I emphasized to him, `We don’t need that. We need wins’. … We’ve got a lot of young kids. They’ve been playing so many years and nobody can say anything to them. They don’t understand sometimes you’ve got to listen to what the coach says.”
Pierce didn’t speak to the media after the game.
Toronto lost for the third time in four contests Wednesday, falling 129-108 to Orlando in the second game of a six-game road trip. The Raptors gave up an NBA season-high 51 field goals to Orlando and were outrebounded 61-32.
After trailing by just eight at halftime, Toronto missed 17 of 22 shots in the third quarter and was down 123-85 midway through the fourth.
“We were a step behind all night,” said Carter, who led the Raptors with 21 points. “Rebounding, of course. Loose balls, transition—everything.”
This is the second six-game trip of the season for the Raptors. They went 1-5 on a trip through six Western Conference cities Nov. 9-17.
“How did we get so blessed to get this type of schedule, I have no idea,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. “It wasn’t the man upstairs who gave us this schedule; it was the man below.”
Toronto has lost its last three visits to Boston.