When the PA announcer at Verizon Center announced the latest accomplishment of Paul Pierce’s illustrious NBA career in the second quarter of the Washington Wizards’ double-overtime win over the Boston Celtics Monday night, the crowd rose to its feet for a standing ovation.
Pierce couldn’t help but notice the applause congratulating him for passing Reggie Miller for 16th place on the all-time scoring list. He acknowledged the fans — both Wizards and Celtics supporters — with a wave and urged them to make more noise.
“It’s great. I heard the crowd ovation,” said Pierce, who achieved the feat against the team that drafted him in 1998. “I think it’s all great, but I really don’t think it’s going to sink in until I’m done playing. I still have a lot of basketball left to play.”
Pierce passed Miller with a free throw in the second quarter and finished the exhilarating contest with 28 points. But the 37-year-old’s most significant accomplishment may have been not fouling out after committing his fifth foul with 5 minutes 28 seconds remaining in regulation.
The 17-year veteran, often matched up with Jeff Green, the Celtics’ top scorer, avoided the dreaded sixth foul despite playing 9:57 of the 10 overtime minutes. And he remained aggressive, drawing a charge on Green with 37 seconds left in the second overtime and the Wizards nursing a one-point lead.
“I’m a smart player,” Pierce said. “You look across the years, I don’t really foul out a lot. I know when I got four or five how to be cautious of that. I’m very aware of it.”
Pierce also supplied big shots; his three-pointer with 38 seconds left in the first overtime tied the game and forced a second extra sessions. He finished with 28 points to increase his career total to 25,300 and sits 313 points behind Alex English for 15th on the all-time scoring list.
“I’ve accomplished a lot of things in this game, but I don’t think it’s really going to truly sink in until I sit down and walk away from the game and say, ‘Dang, look at the things you were able to accomplish.’ Right now, I’m just riding this wave. I’m still on my surfboard.”