Celtics lose 3rd in row, fall to Pistons, 103-88

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Celtics lose 3rd in row, fall to Pistons, 103-88

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Having returned from London Friday afternoon, the Detroit Pistons were supposed to be the ones that would be a step or two slow due to jet-lag.

But it was the Celtics spending most of the night playing catch-up as the Pistons continued their dominance over the C's with a 103-88 win.

Although Detroit (15-25) has been among the NBA's worst teams in recent years, they have managed to have their way with Boston, which has now lost four in a row to the Pistons.

And all four losses have been by double-digits, something no team has done to the Celtics since the Miami Heat swept the four games played against the C's in the 1997-1998 season.

In addition, the loss on Sunday was also Boston's (20-20) third straight after having won six in a row.

Well versed in digging its share of ditches this season, Boston trailed 11-2 to start the game and fell behind by as many 18 points (36-18) in the second quarter.

Maybe they were thinking about the Patriots game because the Cs looked like a team that was both slow and seemingly elsewhere.

And then the Patriots went into the half and the Celtics went on a defensive binge of steals and deflections which created addition scoring opportunities.

Within minutes, this Detroit beat-down became a defensive, scrappy battle that saw the C's respond with a 22-4 run and eventually pull even at 48 on a pair of free throws by Courtney Lee.

Lee was part of a Celtics 1-2 punch off the bench - along with Jeff Green - that kept the C's afloat while most of their teammates drifted in and out between being impact players and flat-out irrelevant.

At the half, Lee and Green each had 12 points and finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

But their play could not put the C's ahead as Detroit closed out the half with a pair of jumpers by Brandon Knight to take a 52-48 lead into the half. Knight led all Detroit scorers with 12 points.

Boston's defensive turnaround in the second came for the most part without Avery Bradley, their top on-the-ball defender.

Bradley was not supposed to play on Sunday. The listed starting five handed out on press row had Leandro Barbosa starting. Even the public address announcer introduced Barbosa as the starter instead of Bradley who managed to convince Doc Rivers at the last minute to give him a shot at playing.

He played just over seven minutes and had two points in the first half, but it was clear that the rib injury he was playing with had an impact on his ability to defend at the level he's accustomed to.

Still, to be down by just four points at the half considering how horrific they began the game was certainly promising for the C's ... or so we thought.

After a Bradley score cut Detroit's lead to 55-54, the Pistons hit back-to-back 3s from almost the same spot on the floor - both with Paul Pierce defending.

It was that kind of game for the Celtics, similar to their 100-99 overtime loss to Chicago on Friday, in which the C's spent a good chunk of the game playing close, but can't get-over-the-hump basketball as the Pistons pushed their one-point lead to nine (67-58) following a put-back dunk by Greg Monroe with about six minutes to play.

Boston cut into the deficit only to once again be turned away as Detroit went into the fourth quarter with an 81-71 lead as the C's never presented any kind of legit threat for the rest of the game.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics draft night recap

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics draft night recap

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0:41 - Danny Ainge on why he saw Jayson Tatum as the best player in the draft, Kristaps Porzingis rumors, and why Josh Jackson canceled his Celtics draft workout.

4:49 - Rich Gotham joins to discuss taking Jayson Tatum with the 3rd overall pick, being patient with the development of players and if there were any potential trades out there.

9:53 - Kyle Draper, A. Sherrod Blakely, and Brian Scalabrine break down the selection of Jayson Tatum and talk about the rumor that the Celtics were in discussions with the Pacers for Paul George. 

13:15 - Tom Giles, Michael Holley, and Kayce Smith debate if it was worth trading down to the 3rd pick to draft Tatum and how Tatum will always be compared to Markelle Fultz for his whole career.