If there was any question how big the Nets considered Monday night's game against the Toronto Raptors, it was answered when coach Jason Kidd announced that Paul Pierce would be in the starting lineup.
Pierce played for only 73 seconds in Sunday's win over Sacramento because of a sore right shoulder, and Kidd said he assumed when he got to Barclays Center Monday that Pierce was not going to be able to play.
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"I thought he was out, but when I saw him, he said, 'Nope,' " Kidd said. "It was a surprise to all of us, but that's Paul. He wants to play, hurt or not hurt. That's who he is."
Pierce played wearing a black stripe of Kineseo (elastic) tape that ran from the middle of his neck to his right shoulder.
He left the floor Sunday night just 1:13 into the Nets' 104-89 win over the Kings after taking a hard hit by Jason Thompson. After Wednesday's loss in Boston, Pierce told reporters that his shoulder had been bothering him off and on the last few years.
There has been some conjecture that Pierce, 36, is absorbing more of a pounding since he moved to the power forward position after Brook Lopez was hurt. Kidd, however, believes that has little to do with his shoulder problems.
"The concern at any position is you take a pounding no matter," Kidd said. "He's a pro. He wants to help his team and he understands how important he is to the team."
Garnett, Kirilenko out
Kevin Garnett, who has been suffering from back spasms, missed his sixth straight game. In his pregame news conference, Kidd said he expected Garnett to play. Something, however, must have happened, as the team announced minutes before tipoff that he would not be available . . . Andrei Kirilenko also sat out with a sprained right ankle. Kirilenko said he is shooting to come back Wednesday against Miami.