Pierce saw a number of familiar faces in the Nets’ 104-96 win over the Celtics Tuesday night, but he was in an unfamiliar role going against his former team.

Playing in the 1,118th game of his career, Pierce didn’t start for just the fourth time, coming off the bench for the first time since Feb. 9, 2007, against the Nets.

“It’s just a different mental approach to the game,” Pierce said. “You got to be ready when your number’s called and that’s what I tried to do, provide leadership, whether it’s in the starting lineup or on the bench. Off the bench, I had to be a leader for the second unit, and I thought we really played well tonight. We played together, we played defense, we were able to keep the lead and do what we were supposed to do.”

Though it was initially believed he would be sidelined for two-to-four weeks, Pierce returned to action after 11 days, wearing a protective glove on his shooting hand.

Pierce said it was uncomfortable, but thinks he’ll adjust to it and will wear it as long as he feels pain in order to avoid swelling. Despite the injury, the veteran forward didn’t shy from contact, collecting seven rebounds while initiating several drives into the paint.

Still shaking off some rust, the second-leading scorer in Celtics history seemed to revel in the role of playmaker, looking to create before looking for his shot.

After missing the previous four games, Pierce played point forward when Deron Williams was on the bench and recorded three assists, none better than a no-look feed to Andray Blatche following a baseline spin.