There were separate standing ovations at different points during the Celtics’ 112-88 rout of Toronto on Wednesday night at TD Garden, but fans stood and cheered for the same reason.
Veteran players on the Celtics had just climbed one rung higher on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Paul Pierce passed Charles Barkley and moved into 20th place on the list while Kevin Garnett passed Jerry West to move into 15th place on the list.
Garnett, who scored 12 points in the game, needed 4 points to pass West (25,192) and did so after hitting a bank shot in the second quarter. The Celtics recognized him on the video board and the crowd stood and applauded as Garnett waved back.
Then in the third, Pierce, who was 9 points short of tying Barkley (23,757), passed his mark and the crowd stood and applauded again as Pierce, who finished with 15, saluted them.
“It just feels like every game we’re clapping,” coach Doc Rivers said. “It feels like one of those two, or [Jason Terry], somebody’s passing something. Every night. No, they make a joke of it but it’s really cool.
“When you pass a Barkley and a West, those names — that’s pretty impressive. I mean, Kevin just passed the logo.” The NBA uses an image of West on its logo.
Garnett was gracious, reflective, and honored when he talked about the milestone.
“I know some day I’ll probably sit back and actually think about it and it’ll probably mean something,” he said.
“But the one word I just keep thinking about, I’m just flattered, because without those people, those players, who’ve created our history, made our league what it is for young guys or younger guys like myself, to follow in the path, there wouldn’t be no Kevin Garnetts, there wouldn’t be any of the yesteryears, so I’m flattered more than honored.”
Said Pierce: “I think that has something to go with the longevity in this league. Like Doc always says, you’ve got to be good but you’ve got to be lucky. I’ve just been lucky enough to be healthy.’’
Of course, Pierce said it was extra sweet to pass Barkley.
“He always talks a lot of smack about us,” Pierce said. “I’m happy that was him.”
Wes Welker rode off into the Rocky Mountain sunset Wednesday, and Rivers counted himself as one of many New Englanders mourning Welker’s unexpected exit.
“Say it ain’t so, Wes,” the coach said when he met with the media before his team’s tilt against Toronto.
It’s not as though Rivers shed any tears, but the way Welker departed — signing a deal for slightly more money than he was offered by his current employer — did remind Rivers of the Ray Allen situation.
“We lost Ray, it feels like, the same way they lost Wes,” said Rivers, who is a close friend of Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Allen departed Boston after last season to sign as a free agent with Miami.
“Just like we wanted Ray to stay, I know they wanted Wes to stay, and it just sometimes doesn’t work out,” Rivers said.
Plan is unchanged
Rivers’s decision to rest Pierce against the Bobcats appeared to backfire when the Celtics were blown out by 26 points by the league’s worst team. But Rivers said his plan for resting players — specifically the 35-and-older trio of Pierce, Garnett, and Terry — hasn’t changed, and that he’d still like to rest some of them a couple more times before the playoffs.
Pietrus gets wistful
Former Celtics swingman Mickael Pietrus, now a member of the Raptors, waltzed into his old locker room at the Garden, shook hands, and chatted up old comrades. Pietrus sighed and said he misses Boston and wishes he had been brought back by the Celtics, who declined to keep him after the 2011-12 season. “I can’t get over it,” the 31-year-old Pietrus said. “I cannot. I’ll be honest with you. I just can’t.’’ Pietrus had lobbied the Celtics brass to re-sign him last season but he had knee troubles, as well as struggles on offense, and the Celtics instead pursued Courtney Lee.