Paul Pierce vs. Kevin Garnett On NBA All-Time Scoring List

Jan 16, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett (2) talks with Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 16, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett (2) talks with Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Wizards’ Paul Pierce moved into 15th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list Monday.

On the surface, it was a rather pedestrian night for Pierce.  His slumping Wizards fell at home to the Charlotte Hornets, 92-88.  Washington has now lost three in a row and five of its last seven.  Over 24 minutes Pierce scored 11 points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out one assist, turned the ball over twice and picked up a technical foul.

In the short term, it’s an evening the 37-year-old small forward would soon like to forget.  But as far as long-term milestones go, it represents a big one.  When Pierce drained a three-pointer just over a minute into the game it gave him 25,614 points in the NBA, one more that Alex English‘s 25,613.

Pierce finished the game with his career point total now standing at 25,622. Also on Monday, in Brooklyn Pierce’s long-time friend and former teammate Kevin Garnett helped carry his Nets past the Los Angeles Clippers, 102-100.  Despite playing just 16 minutes Garnett hauled in 11 rebounds, allowing him to reach a career milestone of his own:

Garnett also scored six points, giving him a total of 25,884 since he first entered the league back in 1995.  Pierce is now No. 15 in total points scored in NBA history, his former Boston Celtics brethren Garnett is next in his path at No. 14.

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Over the course of each of their careers Pierce has consistently been a slightly better scorer than Garnett.  Pierce’s all-time points-per-game average is an even 21.0, while Garnett’s is 18.3.  As far as best single season scoring total goes, Pierce topped out at 26.8 PPG in 2005-06, Garnett’s high-water mark was 24.2 PPG in 2003-04.

Oddly enough, if they’d never teamed up on the Celtics both players might be much higher on the list.  Pierce’s scoring average fell from 25.0 in 2006-07 to 19.6 in 2007-08.  Similarly, Garnett put up 22.4 PPG in his final year with the Minnesota Timberwolves before slipping to 18.8 PPG when he joined Pierce in 2007.

Pierce entered the NBA three years after Garnett did, in 1998.  The 2014-15 campaign marks the 17th season in the league for Pierce and the 20th for Garnett.  During that time Pierce has been on the court for 43,697 regular-season minutes spanning 1,223 games.  Garnett’s numbers are 49,702 and 1,415.

In those 6,005 extra minutes over 192 games, Garnett has accumulated 222 more points than Pierce.

But, the difference is fading fast.  It won’t be long before Pierce surpasses the man who helped bring him a championship in Boston in 2008.

Pierce is still chugging along, averaging 12.9 points in 27 minutes per game for Washington.  On the other hand, the 38-year-old Garnett is putting up only 6.8 points in 21 minutes a night for Brooklyn.  With every passing game Pierce creeps roughly six points closer to eclipsing Garnett’s career total.

Provided each player continues at his current pace and doesn’t miss time to injury (which is a lot to expect considering their ages), Pierce should move in front of Garnett 37 games from now.  The Wizards have 33 contests remaining this season, the Nets have 35.  It’ll be a close call as to whether or not Pierce snags the No. 14 spot this year.

However, Garnett’s contract is up at the end of the season and it is widely assumed that he will retire.  Pierce still has one more year left on his deal with the Wizards and he says he intends to play it out.

Whether it happens this spring or next fall, it’s likely going to be a bittersweet moment when Pierce takes over 14th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Next: Pierce is also climbing the all-time three-point list...

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