February 25, 2018
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Pistons rally from way down to edge Celtics

Winslow Townson | USA Today Sports
Winslow Townson | USA Today Sports
Boston Celtics power forward Jared Sullinger (7) reacts to missing a foul shot late in the fourth quarter as Detroit Pistons small forward Josh Smith (6) looks on in Detroit's 107-106 win at TD Garden in Boston Wednesday night.
By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — A letdown by the Detroit Pistons was almost inevitable on Wednesday night.

After all, Detroit was coming off a road win over the 20-3 Indiana Pacers and was playing its fourth game in six days. There had to be at least a bit of a letdown — and there was.

“When you give a team 35 points in the first quarter, you usually don’t come back from that,” said guard Brandon Jennings, whose number was off — his team actually gave the Celtics 42 points in the first, fell behind by 21 and then pulled out a wild 107-106 victory.

“Our thing is we always have wins against bigger teams and then we always slack off against teams we should beat,” said Jennings, who had 28 points and 14 assists. “So tonight it felt good just to come back and win.”

It wasn’t easy.

The Pistons took over down the stretch and led by seven with three minutes left. They then fell behind again and had to play some great defense over the final 17 seconds to get to 13-14 on the year.

Detroit is the only team in the league with wins at both Indiana and Miami. But the Pistons almost canceled out Monday’s win over the Pacers.

“I wouldn’t say we came out flat; we just didn’t get back on defense. We just weren’t in rhythm,” said forward Kyle Singler, who had 11 points off the bench.

Asked about what changed, coach Maurice Cheeks said, “I thought we made plays, got our defense back, got set a little bit and that changed the game for us.”

Jennings hit a contested 3-pointer with 46.7 seconds left to put Detroit ahead to stay.

With Boston down by two, Celtics forward/center Jared Sullinger was fouled but made just one of two free throws with 41.5 seconds to play. The Celtics had a chance to win at the end, but they squandered 12 seconds, then called a timeout with :05 on the clock before a wild runner by forward Jeff Green failed.

The Celtics (12-15), the first-place team in the dreadful Atlantic Division, blew their big first-half lead and then fell behind by seven with 2:57 left before scoring eight straight points — five by Sullinger — to move back in front. However, Sullinger’s 3-pointer with 1:01 left was Boston’s last basket.

“We turned the ball over a lot (18 times, 14 on steals),” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “We weren’t playing the way we played in the first quarter, and you know that resulted in the loss.”

The Celtics’ 42 points in the first quarter were the most they’ve scored in any quarter this season. But they had just 64 the rest of the way.

“They turned us over and that was the difference in the game,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said.

Detroit forward Josh Smith, coming off two consecutive 30-point games, rallied late to finish with 20 points (he also had four steals). Center Andre Drummond had 14 points and 16 rebounds and forward Greg Monroe tallied 12 points and eight boards for the Pistons.

Sullinger led the Celtics with 19 points and eight rebounds, while guard Jordan Crawford led the rest of the list of seven Celtics in double figures with 17 points. He also had six assists and four rebounds.

Detroit, a strong rebounding team, lost the battle of the boards 41-36.

NOTES: Trade winds are blowing around the Celtics. A day after the Sacramento Kings were reportedly putting together a multi-player offer for G Rajon Rondo (getting closer to a return from knee surgery), the Celtics were reportedly in talks with the Houston Rockets for C Omer Asik. F Brandon Bass and G Courtney Lee were the names bouncing around, but there was also talk of a third team getting involved. Bass refused comment before the game, but Lee, a former Rocket, said, “I only know what y’all know. It’s part of the game. It happens. I’ve been involved in trade rumors my whole career so I don’t pay attention until it happens.” … Detroit G Rodney Stuckey missed the game with a shoulder injury. Former Celtics G Chauncey Billups, 37, was back after sitting out the win at Indiana for a rest day. He scored six points. … The Pistons host the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night, while the Celtics complete their five-game homestand with a Saturday matinee against the Washington Wizards.

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