For all Paul Pierce's many accomplishments, from his Most Valuable Player award in the 2008 NBA Finals to his 10 All-Star game appearances, there remains a sense that he is underappreciated outside of Boston. Doc Rivers had admitted he underestimated Pierce's abilities and questioned Pierce's conditioning until he finally was able to see the professional forward go about his work from day to day. Once the paint was dry on Pierce's latest masterpiece, a much-needed 40-point explosion in a 103-91 win over the Cavaliers to snap a three-game losing streak, Jason Terry allayed those fears. Do not fret about Pierce not getting his due around the league, Terry said. Pierce is appreciated — in more ways than one. "He's a Hall of Famer," Terry said. "He's a champion, one of the greatest Celtics to ever put on the uniform, and that's saying a lot, obviously. One day his jersey will be up there in the rafters. "Not a lot of guys in this league stay with one franchise. You could name them, count them on your hand right now, and there's not many superstars that have been in the league longer than 12, 13 years. He's one of them. His hard work, his dedication, his willingness to stick through the tough times and not just jump off and say, 'I'm out of here. I'm going to join forces with Kobe [Bryant] or Dwyane Wade' — that's a shot right there — 'I'm going to tough it out.' I think that's what guys look at and they respect him." Terry's not-so-subtle potshot at LeBron James and Chris Bosh aside, Pierce, 35, made a statement with his performance Wednesday. In becoming the oldest Celtics player to score 40 points in a regulation game — Larry Bird scored 40 in a double-overtime game when he was also 35, plus a few days — Pierce provided greater proof that he is a different type of modern NBA star. Working on his 15th year as a pro, Pierce is a throwback to when players had funky shooting forms because they played outside, on the asphalt and in the wind, not always in a climate-controlled, hardwood-floored gym. His game will never be described as smooth, although that is how Terry described the easy way Pierce was able to score within the flow of the offense, getting his 40 points on only 16 shots.

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