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 BOSTON (AP) -This time, Paul Pierce picked up his teammates.
One game after being carried off the floor following a scary - but ultimately insignificant - knee injury, the Celtics forward scored 28 points to help Boston beat the Los Angeles Lakers 108-102 and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA finals.
``I felt pretty good,'' Pierce said. ``I didn't really think about the injury, because once I step on the court, it pretty much goes out the window. You hear the crowd; the adrenaline is going.
``I probably feel a little bit better now after the game now that I'm kind of winding down. But during the game it felt good.''
Pierce hit a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left after Los Angeles cut a 24-point deficit to just two points, 104-102. The Lakers tried a quick 3-pointer, but Pierce partially blocked Sasha Vujacic's shot to protect the lead.
Walking back down the court, he finally let loose, slapping hands with the fans in the courtside seats - including actor Donnie Wahlberg - and pumping his fists in celebration.
Game 3 is Tuesday in Los Angeles.
``We did our job, we held home court, and now we can break it back with another win in Game 3,'' Pierce said. ``We're not settling on a 2-0 lead. We want to go out there and win two games in L.A. That's our focus, and that's what we want to go out there and try to do.''
Pierce hit a 3-pointer to make it 44-37 with 3:22 left in the first half, scoring seven points in a 13-5 run that pushed the Celtics lead into double-digits for the first time. In the third, the Lakers cut it to nine points before Pierce hit consecutive baskets to start a 15-2 run that turned a 68-59 game into a 22-point lead.
In all, Pierce was 9-for-16 from the field - hitting all four 3-pointers - while adding eight assists and four rebounds in playing 41 1/2 minutes.
``I thought before the game he felt great, he looked great,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ``So I liked what he was going to do.''
The captain and longest-tenured member of the team, Pierce crumpled to the court in the third quarter of Game 1 after colliding with Celtics center Kendrick Perkins. After writing in pain for a few minutes, he was carried off the floor by his teammates.
Pierce rode a wheelchair the rest of the way to the locker room. But, once he got there, he realized he wasn't that hurt after all.
Coming back into the game - he missed only 1 minute, 45 seconds - he drained back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Celtics the lead for good as they coasted to a 98-88 victory.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson did everything to call Pierce a faker but ask for a note from the doctor, wondering aloud whether famous faith-healer Oral Roberts had visited the Celtics locker room and mocking Pierce's ride to the locker room.
``We discussed the wheelchair a little bit, but that's the only thing,'' Jackson said sarcastically before the game. ``First time I think we've ever seen it.''
Pierce said Jackson's comments hadn't registered.
``I really don't know what they said, really,'' he said. ``Not at all.''
But in the game, the only people hurt were the Lakers.
With an extra day off between games thanks to the TV schedule, Pierce had time to ice his knee, massage it, have electro-stimulation therapy and treat it with lasers. He came onto the floor with a white sleeve on his right leg and a brace covering the knee.
``If he was able to play,'' Celtics forward James Posey said, ``he was going to be out there.''
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