Paul Pierce saw his NBA playing career end Sunday, able to smile after the Clippers lost Game 7 of their first-round playoff series to Utah 104-91 in Los Angeles.
"I really enjoyed myself with this group this year. Regardless of what happened today with the basketball, I'm happy," he said. "… What I've been able to accomplish, what I've been able to do with my career, I gave every ounce I could. I have no regrets."
Pierce, 39, signed with the Clippers as a free agent before the 2015 season, reuniting with coach Doc Rivers and trying to recapture the magic they had in Boston, where the Celtics were able to win one title and compete in the Finals for another.
Pierce's game matched his age. He struggled to adapt to the inconsistent minutes necessary to keep him healthy. And, he never got the championship parade in Los Angeles he dreamed about while growing up in Inglewood, Calif.
Still, the 10-time All-Star walked out Sunday at peace. He leaves after 19 seasons with 26,397 points, 18th-most all-time and two more than Celtics great John Havilcek.
"I enjoyed this ride," he said.
After surviving an intense, physical battle with Memphis, the San Antonio Spurs now face James Harden and the freewheeling Houston Rockets in a second-round series that begins Monday.
San Antonio defeated Houston three times in the regular season, but the average margin of victory was three points in the four-game series. The Rockets, with Harden leading the way, averaged 112.8 points in their five-game series with Oklahoma City, attempting 169 three-pointers in that series.
• One round earlier than a year ago, Toronto and Cleveland are meeting again in the NBA playoffs. On the way to winning their first title, LeBron James and the Cavaliers took care of the Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals, a series that was tied 2-2 before Cleveland won the final two games.
Both teams went 51-31 this season, and their history makes for an intriguing May matchup. "They know us," James said, "and we know them."