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Pierce makes 3-point contest a mind game

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  February 19, 2011 08:13 PM

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Paul Pierce made the challenge. Ray Allen accepted. Now, the two will shoot it out for 3-point bragging rights.

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Pierce's mind tricks have gotten around since he won last year's 3-point Contest. For one, after finishing second to Pierce last year, Stephen Curry made sure to tell his teammate Dorell Wright what he was in for facing Pierce this year.

Thumbnail image for PierceAllenBump(REUTERS-Brian Snyder).JPG


Pierce and Allen will collide in the 3-point contest tonight.

"He was talking a lot during the actual competition," Curry said. "When he made it to the second round, he was warning us that he was going to win."

Daniel Gibson's been around long enough to know what to expect.

"That’s how Paul is," Gibson said. "He does stuff to get himself going and to distract the other guys. That’s just him."

Ray Allen's had to deal with Pierce's trash talking for the past few weeks. The peak came Wednesday before the Celtics win over the Nets, when Pierce walked on to the TD Garden floor while Allen was getting his pre-game shots up -- long before tip off -- and brought out the basketball racks, taking 3s and staring at Allen from the other end of the floor.

“What time was that when I was there?” Allen asked.

Early. Very early.

“When have you seen Mr. Pierce there that early?” Allen asked, grinning but not joking.

"That’s hilarious isn’t it," he concluded.

Pierce has made tonight's 3-point contest an event, challenging Allen just as he passed Reggie Miller to become the league's all-time 3-point leader. Pierce won the competition last year, and beating Allen would something tangible to say he's among history's elite shooters.

So any edge counts, even psychological ones.

"I think a lot of my game is that," Pierce said. "If I can find a way to get in somebody’s head. Obviously, Ray’s a better 3-point shooter than me. I’ve got to try to find other ways to get in his head and beat him. If I can get him to miss just one shot, who knows? But he’s a great competitor. He blocks stuff out like that. But I’ll find a way."

Pierce said yesterday that Ray Allen was likely the favorite.

But Allen isn't buying it. Allen has one 3-point contest title already and he's looking to add another.

"He’s just trying to give you guys good TV," Allen said. "All week he’s been saying he’s going to win, so why would he flip the script now and say I’m the favorite."

It's all a head game.

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