Celtics find a way to beat Detroit, 86-82


Celtics find a way to beat Detroit, 86-82

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON Despite their impressive record, the Boston Celtics (32-9) are not going to play great basketball every night.

That's OK.

The great teams don't have to.

On those nights when very little goes their way, the great teams find a way to get it done when it matters most.

The Boston Celtics are no exception.

For three-plus quarters, the resurgent Detroit Pistons seemed poised to beat Boston for the second time in three meetings this season.

But they made one critical mistake.

They allowed the C's to be within striking distance in the closing moments.

And the Celtics, like any great team, made them pay.

Boston's defense clamped down in the game's final minutes, finishing the game with an 8-0 run as they rallied for an 86-82 win to extend their winning streak to four in a row.

"Listen, nothing was working today," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We were bad."

For three-plus quarters, at least.

But the C's refused to go completely away, and eventually took the lead on a long 2-pointer by Ray Allen that gave the C's an 84-82 lead with 24.5 seconds to play.

Detroit (15-27), winners of three in a row heading into Wednesday's game, was unable to respond.

After a Pistons time-out with 24.5 seconds to play, Rodney Stuckey's floater in the lane hit the back of the rim, and was rebounded by Kevin Garnett.

Garnett sank the second of the two free throws, giving Boston a 3-point lead with 16.6 seconds to play.

Following another time-out by Detroit, Pistons guard and former UConn star Ben Gordon drove into the lane but missed the lay-up.

Glen Davis grabbed his sixth rebound of the night and was immediately fouled.

Davis, who had 11 points off the bench, made the first of two free throws to secure the victory.

"They are an experienced team," said Pistons coach John Kuester, a former Celtics assistant. "They took their time, they were poised."

And it is that poise that was on display down the stretch, a time when the C's battle-tested veterans tend to play their best basketball.

That certainly was the case with Shaquille O'Neal, the oldest player in the league who seemed to have the most spring in his step in the fourth quarter.

He finished with his first double-double as a Celtic, tallying 12 points and 12 rebounds, which included a 3-point play in the fourth that tied the game at 76-76.

"The whole team was flat," O'Neal said. "It was a slow game, it was an ugly game. I just wanted to do my part and try to get us close so we would be able to win."

Said Rivers: "Shaq was the difference in the game, with his energy. Forget his size and all that. I thought Shaq was . . . he won the game for us tonight."

In addition to O'Neal's play, Boston also got another strong game from Paul Pierce who led all players with 22 points.

The C's can't explain why they collectively came out so flat, and never seemed to play with any kind of energy for most of the game.

But they found a way to win.

And when you're looking at an Eastern Conference race that'll likely be decided in the final days - not weeks - of the season, there's no such thing as a bad win.

"Every game is important for us to win, especially on our home court," Paul Pierce said. "All of these games, no matter who we're playing, are big. When you look at the standings, it's going to come down to the end of the year. We're playing for home court advantage throughout the playoffs, so all these games are big for us."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.

Drummond on tweets and trade talk: 'I can change my profile if I want to'

Drummond on tweets and trade talk: 'I can change my profile if I want to'

BOSTON – If you believe what Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons are saying, then the former UConn star will not be on the move prior to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ESTtrade deadline.

Drummond, whose social media posts on Monday and later Tuesday morning only perpetuated the belief that he might be traded to Boston, addressed the trade speculation surrounding him after the Piston’s practice on Tuesday.

“What’s that got to do with my team?” he told reporters. “I can’t control what happens with trade rumors.”

Drummond was then reminded of the eyeballs emoji he posted Tuesday morning, which came less than 24 hours after he re-tweeted Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas’ eyeballs emoji – a similar posting to what Thomas did around the time Boston landed Al Horford last summer.

So as fans and media tried to piece the tweets together like they were clues to a Jessica Fletcher mystery, Drummond did his best to splash cold water on the trade talk on Tuesday.

“I’m a grown man,” he said. “I can change my profile if I want to. It doesn’t matter what time of year. If y’all want to speculate about that and me, go for it.”

Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy has made no secret about the Pistons having conversations with several teams about all their players.

“Some discussions get more serious than others and that’s what happens,” Van Gundy told reporters following the team’s practice on Tuesday. “There hasn’t been a serious discussion about Andre, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been discussions about Andre.

Van Gundy added, “The rumors don’t mean anything to me. One of you (media) guys asked me over the weekend how far along the D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green trade for Reggie was. The first time I heard about it was when I got that text, so I would assume not that far. I usually can just laugh it off, but it gets a little annoying.”