Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both have a chance at major milestones on Sunday
Another game, another win, another set of vintage performance's by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce last night vs. Atlanta. Pierce went for 27 points, 7 boards and 7 assists in the win, while KG chipped in with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Just another day's work for the two future Hall of Famers, both of whom have channeled their younger selves since point guard Rajon Rondo was lost for the season.
Pierce has played some of the best all-around basketball of his career in the 18 games since Rondo went down, averaging 18.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists. Just to put that in perspective, Pierce has never hit those rebound or assist averages in his 15 pro seasons.
Garnett, who has always preferred to concentrate on other facets of the game besides scoring, has realized the need to step up offensively, and responded accordingly. In 17 games since Rondo's injury (remember, KG sat out the game at Phoenix) Garnett has averaged 15.9 points and 9.5 boards, shooting the ball 14 times a game. Prior to Rondo's injury, Garnett was averaging just 12 shots a game.
It's been amazing to see both Pierce and Garnett respond to losing Rondo, and then being left for dead by many across the league. Pierce has taken on the role of 'lead distributor' while KG has taken more of the scoring burden. Like two old dudes staving off younger guys in a 2-on-2 tournament at the Y, Pierce and Garnett just refuse to leave the court.
Of course when you've been doing it as long and as well as these two have, the milestone's are going to come. Earlier this week in Indiana, Garnett passed Wes Unseld for 10th all-time in rebounding, an accomplishment he was honored for last night. And tomorrow in Oklahoma City, both KG and Pierce have a shot at passing all-time greats on the NBA's scoring leader board. Take a look (link).
Garnett needs 19 points to pass 'The Logo', Jerry West, for 15th on the list, while Pierce needs 30 to pass Charles Barkley, and join KG in the top-20. Considering Garnett is averaging 15.1 points a game, and Pierce 18.6, both would have to surpass their season averages to accomplish the feat against the Thunder, but if not tomorrow - it will almost assuredly happen in Charlotte on Tuesday.
At this point, Pierce and Garnett passing legends has become a regular occurrence, but it's still something we should stop and appreciate. It's extremely rare to have two of the twenty greatest scorers playing on the same team, and the same time - and both still playing at such a high level. KG and Pierce played with Shaq in 2011, but Shaq couldn't stay on the court. Hakeem and Barkley played together for a few decent seasons, but it was nothing like the run that Pierce and Garnett are on. Of course Kobe, Shaq, Malone and Payton played together in 2004, but Malone and Payton were shells of their former selves at the time, and Kobe and Shaq could barely be in the same room as one another without wanting each other dead.
Pierce and KG on the other hand love playing with one another. They are taking pride in staving off the younger guys across the league, and winning games that a lot of people didn't see them winning.
While the numbers don't matter nearly as much the victories, if you're an NBA fan - the history does matter. And that's why whenever Pierce and Garnett pass another all-time great, it's pretty damn cool.
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