BOSTON — The Boston Celtics will head into the NBA All-Star break on a high note.
In their final game before this weekend’s festivities in Charlotte, the Celtics notched a 118-110 win over the Detroit Pistons, who entered TD Garden riding a four-game win streak.
Boston was down yet another man on the second leg of its back-to-back, as Terry Rozier joined the list of inactives that also featured Kyrie Irving, Aron Baynes and Robert Williams III. But the C’s were not fazed by the absences, as a loud third quarter vaulted the home team to victory.
Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with a game-high 19 points, while Gordon Hayward (18), Jaylen Brown (17), Al Horford (17 points, 14 rebounds), Marcus Smart (16) and Marcus Morris (11) also registered double figures. Detroit’s interior duo of Blake Griffin (game-high 32 points) and Andre Drummond (21 points, 17 rebounds) had strong nights for the visitors.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 37-21, while the Pistons dropped to 26-30.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jayson Tatum
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Al Horford
RUN FOR RUN
The Celtics came out of the gate firing, opening the contest on an 8-0 run highlighted by two encouraging Hayward slashing drives to force the Pistons to take an early timeout.
Boston failed to capitalize on the momentum though, as Detroit ripped off a 17-0 (!) run to take a 24-13 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. But the C’s didn’t waver despite nearly going five minutes without points. The green went on a 10-0 in the final two minutes of the frame to trim the visitors’ lead to 29-28 heading into the second quarter.
Griffin was a nearly unstoppable force in the first, leading all scorers with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting including a 3-for-4 mark from beyond the arc. Drummond also was a handful, providing eight points to go along with five rebounds.
Horford led the way for the C’s with eight points, while Hayward wasn’t far behind with six.
It didn’t take very long into the second for the Celtics to retake the lead, as Jaylen Brown nailed a step-back jumper to put Boston back on top just 31 seconds in the quarter. That was just the beginning of a productive frame for Brown, who led all scorers in the stanza with eight points to help the C’s take a 57-52 lead into the break.
Brown wasn’t the only Boston reserve to provide a lift in the second either, as Semi Ojeleye chipped in five points, including this thunderous put-back slam.
Hayward and Tatum both matched Ojeleye with five points apiece.
The Pistons’ offense wasn’t nearly as productive in the second as it was in the first. After posting a 52.4 percent shooting clip in the opening frame, Detroit’s mark dipped to 40 percent in the second. The visitors failed to convert a field goal in the final 3:06 of the quarter. Griffin once again paced the visitors with seven points to lead all scorers at the half with 20.
The two sides traded slim single-digit leads over the course of the first two quarters. But the Celtics finally created some separation in the third, outscoring the Pistons 34-20 in the quarter to take a 91-72 lead into the fourth.
After being limited to just two first-half points, Smart woke up in a big way for the C’s with 14 third-quarter points, 12 of which coming from distance.
Tatum nearly matched his first-half total with eight points after scoring nine through the first two quarters. Griffin once again paced Detroit with six points, serving as the only Pistons to play to score more than three in the quarter.
While the Celtics’ offense was fairly efficient, it truly was a sloppy frame of basketball, as the two sides combined for 17 (!) fouls.
Boston grew its lead to as large as 28 when Tatum laid in a finger roll with 9:37 left in the fourth, but the Pistons refused to lay down. Detroit exploded for a 20-5 run following Tatum’s bucket, highlighted by seven points from Reggie Jackson and six from Drummond. But after Drummond’s slam at the 4:15 mark cut Boston’s deficit to just 10, the C’s decided to put an end to the Piston’s surge.
After Horford and Morris knocked down 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, Boston regained the momentum and put the finishing touches on Detroit to preserve its second straight win.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Semi’s slam left the Celtics’ bench in awe.
The Celtics will enjoy some much-needed time off as the NBA heads into the All-Star break. Boston returns to action Thursday, Feb. 21 when it visits the Milwaukee Bucks. Tip-off from Fiserv Forum is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports