Celtics-Pistons Live: Jared Sullinger’s Late Effort Falls Short as Celts Lose 107-106

Brandon BassFinal, Pistons win 107-106: Jared Sullinger pulled the Celtics back into the game kicking and screaming, but never touched the ball in the final 17 seconds.

After Brandon Bass dribbled down more than 12 seconds without going anywhere, Brad Stevens was forced to call a timeout. On the ensuing inbounds, Jeff Green missed a driving layup as time expired. It wasn’t the sharpest-looking end-of-game situation.

Brandon Jennings was stellar for the Pistons (13-14) with 28 points and 14 assists, while Josh Smith added 20 points in the win. Sullinger ended up with 19 points after his late-game heroics, but never got the chance to get the win for the Celtics (12-15).

Fourth quarter, :17.7, Pistons 107-106: Avery Bradley did his job. Now let’s see what Stevens has up his sleeve. Bradley hounded Jennings for almost the entire shot clock and forced Jennings into an impossible fallaway that barely drew iron. The Celtics will inbound from halfcourt with a chance to win.

Fourth quarter, :39.1, Pistons 107-106: Detroit must have brought its kryptonite, because Sullinger’s Superman effort hit a snag. He was fouled going to the hoop and had a chance to tie it at the line, but he missed the second free throw to keep the Celtics from pulling even.

Fourth quarter, :46.7, Pistons 107-105: Brandon Jennings is having a heck of a game, and he won’t let any late flurry by Sullinger let us forget that. His step-back triple gives Detroit the lead back in what’s turning into a back-and-forth battle.

Fourth quarter, 1:01, Celtics 105-104: The Celtics aren’t finished until Jared Sullinger says they are.

And he says they’re not.

Sullinger has scored the last five points, tipping in a miss by Crawford and draining a wing three to put the Celtics on top. The Celtics needed Wallace’s hustle on the offensive glass, which resulted in a foul on the Pistons, to extend their possession, and Sullinger seized the opportunity.

Fourth quarter, 2:46, Pistons 104-99: The Celtics don’t seem too fond of the officiating, which is weird, because the referees have bailed them out a couple of times and are helping them stay alive now.

Jordan Crawford has been fouled on consecutive drives to the basket, the last of which was an and-one to pull Boston within five.

Fourth quarter, 5:19, Pistons 96-93: Courtney Lee is determined to finish his Celtics career with a bang, if this indeed is the end of his tenure in Boston.

Lee has 10 points and is the main reason the Celtics have kept some pace with the Pistons in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Celtics, he’s not eight inches taller and able to defend Andre Drummond. The Pistons big man is using every inch and pound of his 6-foot-10, 270-pound frame to bully the undersized Celtics duo of Bass and Sullinger.

Fourth quarter, 9:21, Celtics 89-85: What’s the opposite of a rousing, Knute Rockne-type speech? Because that’s what Brad Stevens must have given at halftime.

The Celtics have been outscored 37-22 since the break, and their backcourt has been completely reined in. Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford, who had 20 points together at halftime, have scored two points each in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Celtics’ turnover total just keeps growing. It’s now at 18 and counting.

End of third quarter, Celtics 81-80: Vitor Faverani channeled his inner Cedric Maxwell and said, “Hop on my back, boys,” to protect their lead.

OK, so he probably didn’t say that, but he did help the Celtics hold their lead with two big plays at opposite ends of the court. He muscled home a layup, then drew a charge to get the ball back for the Celtics.

Gerald Wallace promptly turned the ball over, as he often does, forcing Kris Humphries to plow into Kyle Singler for a foul. Singler’s two free throws pulled Detroit within a point, but thanks to Faverani’s small contributions, that was all.

Third quarter, 3:24, Celtics 75-74: Brandon Jennings is having one of those games that make him such a tantalizing talent. He’s at 19 points and 10 assists with more than 15 minutes to go, nailing an and-one 3-pointer to knot up the score. His free throw gave Detroit the lead.

His post teammate Andre Drummond has been just as much of a load. He’s got a double-double as well with 12 points and 11 rebounds, with plenty of game left to add to his stat line.

Third quarter, 7:08, Celtics 69-66: After the Celtics’ blazing-hot first quarter, it was only a matter of time before they cooled off. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, who were relatively quiet in the first half, have gone to work in the third quarter.

Drummond has beaten Bass for a nice turnaround hook shot and tipped home a Jennings miss. Monroe followed with a driving layup to force a timeout by Stevens. Jennings has even found his stroke again with a step-back three to force the Celtics to extend their defense.

Halftime, Celtics 63-52: Even with a 21-point lead, the Celtics aren’t good enough to get complacent. That was clear when a brief lull in their energy opened the door for the Pistons to close the gap to 10 points.

Even worse for the Celtics, the Piston’s 20-11 push came with both team’s starters on the court.

The Celtics were able to regroup after a timeout by Brad Stevens though, and kept the Pistons from getting any closer. Detroit needed a floater by Brandon Jennings that bounced around the rim a few times before going in to even stay within 11 points.

Jennings is the leader is scoring so far with 13 points and Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford join him in double figures, but Boston’s guards have cooled off after their hot start. Bradley and Crawford combined for just two points in the second quarter. Turnovers plagued the Celtics toward the end of the first half, too. They’ve committed 10 turnovers in the game and had six in the second quarter alone, literally handing the ball to the Pistons to make a comeback.

Second quarter, 6:41, Celtics 52-32: Starting three players taller than 6-foot-9, the Pistons really shouldn’t be getting schooled down low like they are. The Celtics are outscoring them 26-12 in the paint, and it’s not just Boston’s big men doing the damage.

Wallace has attacked the basket every time he’s touched the ball, leading to a layup for himself and Kelly Olynyk on a drive-and-dish. Both times, Wallace’s momentum ended up carrying him into the line of photographers along the baseline.

Second quarter, 8:08, Celtics 48-30: Kris Humphries and Wallace might be the two players Celtics fans most love to hate, but they’ve done a solid job of helping the Celtics maintain their wide lead. The former Brooklyn Nets are 4-for-4 from the field combined and Wallace has added three assists, a team high, to the effort.

End of first quarter, Celtics 42-23: Jonas Jerebko will probably not be called on for many more defensive specialist situations the rest of the night.

Jerebko was called in to watch Jared Sullinger with the Celtics inbounding the ball with 0.2 seconds on the clock. The Celtics shouldn’t have been able to score, but Sullinger spun behind Jerebko pretty easily and tipped in a lob pass from Gerald Wallace. It was awful defense by Jerebko, in keeping with Detroit’s defensive effort as a team in the first quarter.

The Celtics are shooting 70 percent from the field and have nine assists on 16 field goals. Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford each have 10 points, and they’ve gotten those 20 combined points on a total of 10 shots.

First quarter, 2:41, Celtics 26-20: Brandon Jennings is capable of carrying or killing a team. He’s done a bit of both already.

Jennings hit three of his first four shots, including a 3-pointer, to help the Pistons keep within striking distance. Then he had the ball in the middle of the court on a 3-on-2 fastbreak and … pulled up for a leaning three from the top of the arc.

His shot missed, robbing the Pistons of a chance to get as close as they have been since the opening minutes. Jennings takes and Jennings takes away.

First quarter, 7:21, Celtics 15-9: This game features one of the biggest “small” forward matchups you’ll see. Jeff Green and Josh Smith at 6-foot-9, 235 pounds each are small in name only. The difference comes in where they do their damage.

Green, for all his faults, keeps most of his shots to corner threes and drives to the hoop. Smith, by contrast, loves his jumper. Coincidentally, Smith came out gunning, taking five of Detroit’s first 11 shots, and the Pistons suffered as a result. The Pistons missed their first six field goals before KCP hit a corner three in transition to get Detroit on the board.

Meanwhile, Brandon Bass is capitalizing on some lazy defense by Detroit’s big men. He’s 3-for-3 from the field, including an alley-oop that came pretty easily by just beating Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe down the floor.

6:44 p.m.: Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee have seen their names tossed around in trade rumors before. To see them pop up again Wednesday in connection with a trade with Houston for Omer Asik therefore wasn’t all that surprising.

Bass declined comment before the game but Lee fielded about a half-dozen questions, although the veteran guard was careful to say he had no inside information. He also said the trade talk wasn’t affecting his preparation.

“I showed up today preparing for Detroit, and I’m focused on going out there and getting a win,” Lee said. “That’s my mindset.”

For now, Bass is still among the projected starters — which appears below in its entirety.

Pistons
Andre Drummond
Greg Monroe
Josh Smith
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Brandon Jennings

Celtics
Jared Sullinger
Brandon Bass
Jeff Green
Avery Bradley
Jordan Crawford

8 a.m. ET: Pick a time period. The Celtics look pretty good no matter what you choose.

Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Pistons, the Celtics (12-14) have won two in a row, five out of seven or eight out of 12, depending how far back you go. In the midst of a five-game homestand, the Celtics have actually defended their home floor well of late. They entered December 3-5 at TD Garden but have won four of their five home games since and look to keep that streak going against Detroit (12-14).

The Pistons are one of the many Eastern Conference teams this season that can look dangerous one night and totally lost the next. They became the first team to beat the Pacers at the Fieldhouse on Monday and already have a victory over the Heat to their credit. But a 5-10 record in November put them in a compromised position, and after beginning December with four straight wins, they proceeded to drop four of the next five games before their victory over Indiana.

Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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