Paul Pierce may be captain of the Celtics, but in spirit and general work ethic, the man is very much a hockey player.

He spent the latter part of last night’s game on the bench icing his right ankle, but he should have spent another bag or two on his back after the way he tried to carry the rest of the stumbling C’s (except for Jeff Green) in a 108-89 loss to the Knicks.

While Green had another good outing with 27 points, the captain had 24 and 15 rebounds (his most since a career-high 19 on Nov. 1, 2006) in 32 minutes. His five assists were also high on a team that had just 12 — a figure that speaks volumes about the outcome.

It’s likely Pierce will be rested tonight in Minnesota as Doc Rivers gives a break to someone of whom he has asked so much.

“I’ve just been put in that position . . . I mean, injuries to a lot of key guys,” said Pierce, ever the mensch, with a verbal shrug. “That’s what it is. I can’t sit down and cry about it. I’ve got to go out and play.”

Would that the Celtics collective had felt the same here last evening.

The Bostonians arrived intent on proving they weren’t the team that had lost to the Knicks by 15 back in Boston last Tuesday, and they most certainly accomplished that mission.

They weren’t the same; they were worse.

Allowing the Knicks to make 12 of their first 17 3-pointers and shoot better for the night outside the arc (14-for-27) than within it (21-for-45) reveals an unwillingness to hustle to the perimeter. And that, among other things, didn’t sit well with Pierce.

“Yeah, very disappointing,” he said after watching the Knicks collect their eighth straight win. “I definitely didn’t expect a showing like this coming into Madison Square Garden — especially with the way they did us in our home building. Especially being a team that we may face in the playoffs.

“So if this is a team that we face in the playoffs, they’re going to have tremendous confidence versus us. So who knows? We’ve got to do something about it. If we see them in the playoffs, they feel like they have our number. But we did it to ourselves.”

The particulars were painful.