EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Paul Pierce winked, and then walked away.
That’s what happened when the Brooklyn Nets' veteran forward was asked about Tuesday’s Phil Jackson news conference.
At this point in the season, Pierce doesn’t want to talk about the team he loves to hate.
“He’s always been a competitor,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “That’s who he is. Obviously since elementary school, he loves the competition, and you can see that when he’s on the floor.”
Before the start of the season, however, Pierce wouldn’t stop talking, saying it was time for the Nets to start running the city.
In the 2008 NBA Finals, Jackson mocked Pierce’s wheelchair ride into the locker room in Game 1. Pierce returned from a knee injury to lead the Celtics to victory in that game, and, eventually, the series.
“Paul got carried off and was back on his feet in a minute,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if the angels visited him at halftime or in that timeout period that he had or not, but he didn’t even limp when he came back out on the floor. I don’t know what was going on there. Was [evangelist] Oral Roberts back there in their locker room?”
After getting off to a slow start with his new team, Pierce has emerged as a leader and a go-to guy for the Nets.
A look at his splits:
2013: 26 games: 12.6 points, 40.3 percent shooting, 102.7 on-court defensive rating
2014: 34 games: 14.1 points, 46.6 percent shooting, 97.8 on-court defensive rating
Pierce has done everything the Nets have asked of him, from moving to power forward and guarding much bigger players to setting the tone both on the court and in the locker room.
This past week, he hit late go-ahead shots against Toronto and Miami.
• The Nets have won nine straight games at home, but Pierce believes they don’t necessarily have to be at Barclays Center to have success in the postseason.
“We haven’t really said where we want to be [playoff seeding wise],” Pierce said. “We obviously want to win the division, but we know that even if we do start on the road, we’re a more than capable team that can get the job done on the road. We’ve had some great wins in some of the toughest buildings in the league: Oklahoma, Miami. So we know what we’re capable of even if we have to go on the road.”
• Kevin Garnett, who has missed the past nine games due to back spasms, declined to talk to reporters. He has not spoken with reporters since Feb. 26. Garnett will be reevaluated on Saturday, as previously reported.
“I’m sure if it was a playoff game today KG would be out there,” Pierce said. “We want him to get as close to 100 percent as possible during the stretch run, because we’re going to need him this season and in the playoffs.”
• Kidd, when asked about a banner of his retired jersey No. 5 hanging in the team’s practice facility: “Decorations. They gotta decorate the building with something. They got five other ones.”