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Pietrus shooting for a crunch time role

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Celtics swingman Mickael Pietrus.BOSTON -- Mickael Pietrus' primary offensive role with the Celtics is appealing enough to make even head coach Doc Rivers a little bit jealous.

"[Pietrus] has a great role -- shoot," Rivers said following Monday's 97-88 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. "That’s a hell of a role. I never had that as a player, but I couldn’t shoot -- that was probably the reason. I talked to [former Hawks coach Mike] Fratello, he’s here [with TNT]. But [Pietrus] earns it; he plays so hard."

Pietrus took his role to heart during Monday's loss, rifling off a season-high nine field goal attempts in just his fourth game in green. He made just one of his first three shots over the opening three frames, but caught fire over the final 12 minutes, pouring in 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-4 from 3-point nation, nearly shooting the Celtics to victory in the process. He finished with a season-high 14 points.

Pietrus played alongside Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Garnett for the final six minutes of the fourth quarter -- a smaller lineup that seemed to work well. Had Oklahoma City not buried a few jaw-dropping 3-pointers of their own, that smaller lineup would be garnering much more praise for sealing the win that snapped Boston's four-game losing streak.

Pietrus was instrumental within that lineup, though, mainly for his unconsciousness from deep. Make or miss, Pietrus continued to get open and fire away.

"He’s going to take some crazy shots sometimes, he may turn it over, but his spirt is really good for our team, he’s competitive, and we really needed to add another instigator [to our] team, and he is absolutely an instigator," said Rivers.

Pietrus certainly instigated Boston's fourth-quarter recovery effort, as his string of long jump shots consistently whittled away at Oklahoma City's lead. Until the final minutes when the Thunder could have shot it from Causeway Street and found nothing but net, Pietrus continually cut their lead to five or fewer points, never letting them pull away comfortably.

After the game, Pietrus expressed his disappointment with the loss, and reasserted his ongoing efforts to adjust on the fly to his latest surroundings. More than anything, though, Pietrus was praiseworthy of that smaller lineup that kept Boston alive, and sees bright things for it in the future.

"Like I've told you, when we start winning, we're going to be so hard to stop," he said. "Especially that small lineup. For the first time I think it looked good, and I think that's something coach is really going to try to do late in the game, because we played extremely hard. And I think that we just have to be patient with ourselves and it's just one game. The NBA's not going to stop. We're not going to have another lockout, so we will come out and try to get a win."