Celtics fall 107-106 to Pistons after 2nd-half fade

Celtics fall 107-106 to Pistons after 2nd-half fade
December 18, 2013, 10:15 pm
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Jeff Green tries to get his shot over Josh Smith, center, and Andre Drummond.

(AP Photo)

BOSTON — When the Celtics eclipsed the 100-point barrier on Wednesday, even trailing at the time, their chances of rallying for the victory were good.

After all, Boston was a perfect 7-0 this season when they scored 100 or more points.

Now it's no longer a trend after Boston's 107-106 loss to Detroit.

Trailing by a single point, Boston had the ball after calling a timeout with 17.7 seconds to play.

The ball wound up in the hands of Brandon Bass and it never left after several precious ticks of the game clock ran off. It wasn't until coach Brad Stevens, sensing this was an absolute disaster in the making, called another timeout with 4.7 seconds to play.

Boston got Jeff Green driving to the basket, but his swooping bank shot hit the backboard without touching rim as time expired.

The Celtics fell behind by as many as five in the fourth quarter, but rallied behind Jared Sullinger whose 3-pointer put Boston ahead 105-104 late in the game. He finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.

The Pistons came back with a 3-pointer by Brandon Jennings which put Detroit back ahead by two. Jennings led all scorers with 28 points and 14 assists.

Sullinger could have tied the score, but missed the second of two free throws that left them behind by a single point (107-106) with 46.7 seconds to play.

A defensive stop gave Boston another chance to escape with the victory, only to fall short.

There was a laundry list of contributing factors in Boston's loss, but few loomed as large as their turnover total which was arguably the biggest reason for the loss.

For the game, Boston turned the ball over 18 times which isn't too horrible; not good but definitely does not spell doom.

Still, then you glance next to that number of the stat sheet and see a big, fat 30; as in, 30 points scored off of turnovers.

Beating Detroit was going to be a stiff challenge for Boston.

To do so while committing that many mistakes?

Mission Impossible, folks.

The bulk of Boston's bumbles - 14 turnovers to be precise - came in the second half.

And the Pistons made the Celtics pay by cashing them in for 23 of their 30 points off of turnovers.

It was a disappointing finish to what may have been the last game for a couple of Celtics players - Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee.

Both of their names have been bantered about in trade talks involving Boston and the Houston Rockets, who would send disgruntled center Omer Asik to Boston.

The play of Bass (11 points) and Lee (10 points) didn't seem affected by the trade talk. The two shot a combined 8-for-12 from the field.

No loss ever feels good, but this one had to hurt when you consider how well Boston began the game.

The first quarter went about as well as the Celtics could have hoped.

Getting stops early.

Not allowing second and third-shot opportunities.

Knocking down shot after shot.

It has been a formula for recent success that's fueled by a strong start to games.

Boston came in outscoring their opponents by 7.86 points in the first quarter of games this month.

The Celtics were well on their way with a strong start that didn't end until the had amassed a season high for points (42) in a quarter, while limiting the Pistons to just 23 points.

Boston kept its lead in double figures throughout the second quarter and the early part of the third.

But with Detroit's size advantage, you had to figure they would wear down Boston's bigs and eventually start to chip away at Boston's lead.

Early in the third, Detroit went on an 11-2 run to cut Boston's lead to just 69-66. Jennings converted a four-point play with 5:01 to play in the third that put Detroit ahead 74-73, for the first time all game.

The two went back and forth the rest of the quarter which ended with Boston clinging to an 81-80 lead.