It was the Boston forward who was captured by television cameras late in his team's Game 2 win over the Lakers in the NBA Finals as saying, "We ain't coming back to L.A.'' But Boston's dreams of winning three straight games at home to capture the series were shattered when the Celtics lost Game 3 at home.
But the Celtics love L.A. now. Their 96-89 win Thursday night in Game 4 at the TD Garden tied the NBA Finals 2-2 and assured there will at least be a Game 6 in Los Angeles.
Pierce looked as if he would be the big star Thursday, scoring 12 points in the first half. But Pierce didn't score again until late in the game, which was good enough for him to finish with a game-high 19 points.
No big deal. With Boston's bench providing 36 points on the night and playing much of the fourth quarter, reserve forward Glen Davis had 18 points, including 11 in the second half. Also providing key bench support was Nate Robinson with 12 points.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 33. He shot 10 of 22, much better than his 10 of 29 effort in Game 3. No doubt Bryant would take that outing over Thursday's since his team won.
But there's plenty more to come in this series. The only certainty now is it will end in Los Angeles.
Hero of the Day
Another unsung guy stepped up. In Game 3, it was Lakers guard Derek Fisher scoring 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter of his team's win. On Thursday, it was Boston reserve forward Glen Davis scoring 11 of his 18 points in the second half.
Davis played 22 minutes. He was on the floor much of the fourth quarter as the Celtics outscored the Lakers 32-27 in the period.
Davis, who also had five rebounds, would have been Boston's leading scorer had Pierce not made two meaningless foul shots with 9.5 seconds left to account for the game's final points.
With 8:23 left in the third quarter, the Celtics trailed 53-48 and coach Doc Rivers called a timeout. The Celtics, who could ill afford to fall behind 3-1 in the series, needed to make a rally and save their season.
They sure did.
The Celtics slowly closed to within 62-60 to end the third quarter. Then they opened the fourth quarter with a 19-8 spurt to take a 79-70 lead and control of the game. The shot that gave them that nine-point lead and sent the fans into a frenzy was a three-pointer by Boston forward Rasheed Wallace with 6:18 left for his only points of the game.
Outside the Box
Lakers center Andrew Bynum, saddled by a bad right knee, has gutted it out throughout the playoffs. But Bynum clearly has taken a step back after tweaking his knee in the third quarter of Game 3.
Bynum played just 13 minutes in Game 4. Bynum, who had just two points and three rebounds, clearly wasn't the same player he was when he had 21 points and seven blocks in Game 2.
But Lakers reserve post Lamar Odom, who got the bulk of the minutes Thursday with Bynum limited, also wasn't the same player as Game 2, when he had his second straight mediocre game to start the Finals before starting to get things going in Game 3. Odom on Thursday was steady with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Key Coaching Decision
Rivers was not shy about using his bench, and it saved the Celtics. Boston's reserves scored 36 points, their most in any game of the series while playing a total of nearly 80 minutes, also their most in the Finals. Davis worked hard inside for his 18 points. Rivers gave backup point guard Nate Robinson 17 minutes, more than he had combined to play in the previous two games and more than in any game in the Finals. Robinson, who showed early he might have a good night with two first-half three-pointers, responded with 12 points.
You Had to be There, Part 1
Early in the game, Pierce scored on a drive (that didn't count due to a previous foul) and threw his arm out in celebration. Whack! He accidentally hit official Ed Rush in the face. Of course, it was an accident. But, with all the complaints going on about officiating in this series, one wonders if any conspiracy theories might surface regarding the incident.
You Had to Be There, Part 2
When Ray Allen actually made a shot. The Celtics guard had shot 0 of 13 in Game 3 after missing his final three shots in Game 2, a staggering 16 straight shots. But Allen made his first shot of Game 3, a layup one minute into the game. The crowd roared mightily. It didn't immediately help Allen's confidence as he missed his next five attempts to make it 21 of 22 clanged. But Allen finally heated up a bit, making three of his last five shots to finish Thursday with 12 points on 4 of 11 marksmanship.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson