Paul Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his career on Tuesday and since it seemed to work so well, Nets head coach Jason Kidd decided to keep him there again Thursday.
Even if Pierce is not thrilled, he publicly accepted it when discussing it in interviews and with Kidd.
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“I think that just shows his character at being a pro because we’re asking Paul to come off the bench and he probably hasn’t come off the bench since his CYO days or his youth basketball program,” Kidd said before Thursday’s game against the Clippers.
“He’s always been a starter. He’s always been a focal point of the team. So as you saw in the Boston game, I thought he was great coming off the bench and being that leader. He gave us a great spark even though down the stretch he might not have scored but he was making the right decisions. So he gives us another leader with that second group and it just shows his character and his willingness to do whatever it takes to help us win.”
Pierce scored three points and missed all three of his field goal attempts while playing 22:14 on Tuesday. But he had four assists and seven rebounds and the team played well with him on the court, especially defensively.
The Nets held the Celtics to 43.8 percent shooting (35-of-80) but when Pierce was on the court, that figure was 30.3 percent (10-of-33). Pierce played the final 6:27 of the first quarter when the Celtics were 1-of-10 and the Nets went from being down 14-13 to being up 31-20.
Before this week, the last time Pierce came off the bench was Feb. 9, 2007 in New Jersey. Pierce was coming off missing 24 games with a stress reaction in his left foot and an infection while Rivers and the Celtics were going through a 24-win season.
“Paul is a ball player,” Rivers said. “He doesn’t care. If I had asked Paul to come off [the bench] last year, he would’ve.”
Rivers chimes in on Lawrence Frank
When current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau left his role as the architect of Doc Rivers’s defense in Boston, his replacement was Lawrence Frank.
In the one season Frank worked with Rivers, the Celtics won 56 games and allowed an NBA-low 91.1 points per game before losing in five games to the Heat in the conference semifinals.
Frank wound up spending two years with the Pistons before returning to the Nets alongside Kidd, who reassigned him last week due to philosophical differences.
“I was disappointed quite honestly because I’m a friend of both and I just wish they could’ve figured it out,” Rivers said.
No update on Kirilenko
Andrei Kirilenko has played 53 minutes this season and but none have been in the last 17 games and more minutes do not appear to be in his foreseeable future due to back spasms.
Kirilenko sat out again Thursday and will surpass the 18 games he missed with Minnesota last season assuming he sits the next two games after Thursday. Kiilenko has not begun practicing and the Nets have not been vague about his status.
“There’s no update,” Kidd said. “Hopefully sometime in 2013 would be great but if he comes back in 2014 that would be fine too.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.