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March 18, 2010

Pierce, KG show title spark

BOSTON — It was the sight that Celtics players, coaches and fans had been longing to see. The sign that makes followers believe that maybe, just maybe, the C's contending for a title may not yet be out of reach.

For at least one game, aging and injured Celtics stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett turned back the clock and showed that, on the right night, the spark is still alive.

"Paul did a great job of being aggressive on offense and defense," said Celtics swingman Marquis Daniels. "He is just going out there and

playing the way he does. Paul is a great scorer, so I don't worry about him."

Daniels may not worry, but many have wondered about the 32-year-old Pierce, who has battled injuries to his thumb and knee throughout this season on his way to averaging 17.5 points per game, the fewest since his rookie season (16.5).

And it appeared early on that last night may be another lost game for Pierce. He was whistled for two quick fouls and played just 1:51 in the first period without scoring a point.

"Most players struggle on nights when you pick up fouls like that," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "But Paul came back in and he looked

like he hadn't missed a beat."

Pierce reentered the game at the open of the second quarter, and by halftime he had already hung 13 points on the lowly Knicks.

Looking quick and athletic, Pierce needed just 24:09 to post 29 points for the game, shooting 11 of 17 from the floor, including three

3-pointers.

That total marked the second most points for Pierce in a game this season, trailing just the 35 he scored in a loss to Atlanta. But, more importantly, it was the first time in eight games that he had scored more than 20 points.

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