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Bulpett: Pierce's play deserves attention
Pierce's play deserves attention
by Steve Bulpett
Friday, October 8, 1999
Paul Pierce has a lot to learn about getting attention. The kid just
doesn't get it.
As the first week of Celtics training camp wears on, the focus has been
on newcomers and injured players and checking to see if Antoine Walker
is cool with Rick Pitino after being talked about in trade talks this
Meanwhile, the word from inside the closed workouts is that Pierce is
looking even better than he did last season, when he was the best player
on the team as a rookie. So, Paul, have you considered creating some
controversy to attract the spotlight?
``No, I don't want to become a squeaky wheel,'' he said, laughing at the
suggestion. ``I just want to hold things tight, work hard and keep as
many of those holes out of my game as I can.''
Few holes were visible last year. A sprained right ankle did throw him
into a brief stagger and help push him off the Rookie of the Year track.
And there came a point where Pierce became less aggressive in going to
the basket. But 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 41 percent 3-point
shooting don't exactly look like Swiss cheese.
He insists, however, that things will be better this season.
``I'm a year smarter,'' Pierce said. ``I know what to expect this time.
I'm going to be more confident coming in this time.
``Before, I didn't really know what to expect or how well I could do.
Now I'm confident. I know I can play with the big boys, and I'm going to
Specifically, Pierce is concentrating on the end of the floor ignored by
many Celtics last season.
``I don't think I was consistent enough defensively,'' Pierce said. ``I
don't think I was consistent throughout the year, and I don't know if
that was because of injury or just the shortened season and not having
"I started off the season really hot and leading the league in steals,
but then I really dropped off in that category. So I'm going to really
try to maintain and hopefully become our defensive stopper on the
Pierce finished with 1.71 steals per game, 19th-best in the league. But
he had 2.73 swipes per game in February and he believes he can sustain a
Anything else beyond the steals?
``Hopefully we can pick up some more wins,'' Pierce said.
``I mean, that's going to be the issue for us - me and Antoine (Walker)
- as team leaders. If we don't pick up our wins, people are going to be
looking to us. So it's our job to make sure everybody is here on time
and working hard. That's the only thing that's in my mind - winning.''
What's not necessarily in his mind is what position he'll be playing.
With the addition of Danny Fortson, it was thought Walker would move
over to small forward and push Pierce from small forward to shooting
guard. But he's not concerned.
``It really doesn't matter to me,'' Pierce said. ``I've been working on
my ballhandling, so I feel comfortable if I get put at guard, but on
this team there's really not a lot of difference in the positions. I
don't care where I play. I just want to be able to play well wherever
they put me.''
Such talk is music to Pitino's ears.
``He has the attitude for stardom,'' said the coach. ``His dedication is
a throwback to what you see with the Kevin McHales of the world, in
terms of learning the fundamentals. I really think you're going to see a
lot from Paul Pierce this year.''
None of it controversial.