BOSTON — The Celtics had been good at times and not-so-good at times over their last two contests.
Such was the case again Wednesday night, where Boston dominated the Detroit Pistons for three quarters but nearly fell apart down the stretch.
The Celtics operated smoothly with a balanced offensive attack and played ferocious defense at the other end to lead the Pistons by as many as 24 points at TD Garden. Detroit came storming back in the fourth quarter with a huge run, but Boston did just enough to hang on for a 102-95 win.
Boston put six players in double figures. Isaiah Thomas led the way with 17 points and seven assists, while Avery Bradley chipped in 15 and Evan Turner added 14.
Reggie Jackson paced Detroit with 17 points, while Andre Drummond (16 points, 13 rebounds) notched a double-double.
The Celtics improved to 29-22 with the victory and now have won seven of their last eight games.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger
The Celtics’ starting unit got off to a great start offensively.
The group tallied assists on all eight of its made field goals through the first six minutes and got wide-open looks thanks to some nifty ball movement.
Marcus Smart helped pick up where the starters left off, drilling a pair of 3-pointers late in the period to help Boston open up an 11-point lead after one.
Boston’s second unit used a similar formula of quick ball movement and fast pace to put forth an even better second quarter.
The C’s dropped 29 points in the frame, tallying eight more assists on 11 made baskets and beating the Pistons down the floor on several occasions.
Boston’s defense also clamped down early, limiting Detroit to just 36 first-half points on 29.5 percent shooting while tallying four steals. The C’s closed the first half on a 12-2 run to take a 20-point lead.
FINDING THEIR STROKE
The Pistons remembered how to shoot in the third quarter and cut a sizable hole in the Celtics’ lead.
Detroit drilled five 3-pointers in a span of about four minutes, including two from Ersan Ilyasova, who dropped 11 points in the quarter.
The Celtics withstood the barrage, however, forcing the Pistons into difficult shots in the latter part of the frame and scoring the last six points of the quarter to boost their lead back to 18.
SPUTTERING AT THE FINISH
The Celtics had a whole lot of trouble closing things out.
Boston’s offense went cold down the stretch, allowing Detroit to go on a massive run that cut the lead down to seven points. But Smart drilled a clutch 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining, and the C’s won the free throw battle down the stretch to hang on.
FORGOT ABOUT ‘DRE
Drummond notched his obligatory double-double, but the Celtics actually outmuscled the Pistons in the paint.
Despite a strong game from the All-Star big man, Boston outscored Detroit 54-26 in the paint. They also won the battle on the boards 49-48 thanks to an ultimate team effort, as six Celtics recorded five rebounds or more.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Tyler Zeller dropped an unsuspecting hammer on the Detroit defense in the second quarter:
The Celtics are hitting the road to take on the Eastern Conference’s best. Boston will be in Cleveland on Friday to take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had their five-game winning streak snapped Wednesday at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets. Tipoff at The Q Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) reacts after his basket against the Detroit Pistons in the first quarter at TD Garden.
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