Paul Pierce returned to the Nets lineup on Tuesday after missing the last four games with a broken bone in his hand.
But he wasn’t in his usual spot in the team’s starting lineup.
Facing his former Boston Celtics, Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his storied career. And his head coach, Jason Kidd, liked what he saw.
“I liked him being a leader with that second group,” Kidd said. “Will it stay that way? I don’t know. We will look at the video tomorrow as a team and coaches. I will talk to Paul and see what his comfort level is, but I would like to get him back, give him more minutes and get him used to that glove.”
It was just the fourth time in his 16-year career — almost exclusively with the Celtics — that Pierce came off the bench. Alan Anderson started in his place, scoring 15 points in 35 minutes.
“It’s all about winning,” Pierce said. “If that’s what’s best for the team, then so be it.”
Pierce was 0-for-3 from the field, perhaps limited by the brace he wore to protect his injured shooting hand. But he grabbed seven rebounds and finished with three assists and a steal in just over 22 minutes of action, impacting the game in other ways.
Coaches around the league will tell you that starting lineups mean little, and that the players who are on the floor finishing the game are far more important to a given team’s success. Pierce played 7:56 in the final frame, which may be part of the reason (along with the ultimate, winning result) he’s fine with starting the game watching from the bench.