AUBURN HILLS, Mich. And to think, this was supposed to be the "easy" game on this road trip for the Boston Celtics.
But the more we watch this Celtics team, the more nothing by them can be taken for granted - especially when it comes to winning games.
The struggles of the Green Team continue, as they stumbled and bumbled their way to yet another disappointing performance in losing, 96-81, to the Detroit Pistons.
Boston (15-15) has now lost three in a row, and five of its last six games.
Like most of the C's games this season, the night began with them being even more short-handed than expected.
Kevin Garnett, who did not play in last week's loss to the Pistons, was not with the team for Sunday's game to attend to a personal matter. Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said there was a chance that Garnett might re-join the team in time for Monday's game at Dallas.
In addition to Garnett, the Celtics were also without Brandon Bass (left knee) who isn't expected back on the floor until after the all-star break.
"It's tough, especially when you go on this road trip, and you just want to be healthy," Rivers said prior to the game. "And you just haven't had that opportunity. This is a road trip I've really been looking forward to. We thought a week ago, Kevin was going to be good and Brandon was going to be healthy and now you don't have either one for at least one of the games, maybe two. That makes it a tough trip."
And with all the injuries, it means some players are being called upon to play roles that frankly, might be too much for them to handle.
JaJuan Johnson has shown promise, but it's clear that he's just not ready to be a player who can give them quality minutes over an extended period of time.
And Greg Stiemsma, who has also shown promise, has been decent in spot duty. But when asked to play a prominent role which was the case on Sunday due to all the injuries and foul trouble it's going to make for a long, long night.
While the Celtics are quick to say that they don't want anyone feeling sorry for them, no worries about that.
Teams are showing them absolutely no sympathy.
Instead, they're simply attacking them in every way imaginable.
Detroit began the game on the attack, which led to them absolutely dominating the free throw game. At the half, they had 29 free throw attempts compared to just 10 by Boston.
It didn't matter that the Pistons missed 12 of those free throws.
The message was clear:
They were going to attack. They were going to be the aggressor.
And when those two things happen, it usually means that team is going to win.
Boston didn't do itself any favors in giving the Pistons multiple second and third-shot opportunities.
The Pistons had 40 points off of Boston's 24 turnovers, while the Piston's 15 turnovers led to 13 points for the C's.
So now the Celtics find themselves needing road wins at the defending NBA champions (Dallas) and the best team in the Western Conference record-wise (Oklahoma City), in order to avoid falling at or below-.500 for the first time since they were 9-10 following a loss on Jan. 29 to Cleveland.
HOT SHOT: Rodney Stuckey missed eight of his 10 shots from the field, but there was little doubt that he had the hot hand - from the free throw line. Stuckey finished with 16 points for the Pistons, which included him making 12 of his 15 free throw attempts. Just to put that in perspective, Stuckey's 15 free throw attempts was equal to the number of free throws the Celtics had as a team. "Just getting out on the break, attacking, getting into the bonus early really helped us and that's what we need to continue to do; keep attacking the basket and getting out on the break. It's really helping us right now."
IN-N-OUT: It was that kind of night for Rajon Rondo, who had five points on 1-for-6 shooting, to go along with 10 assists prior to being ejected - a first for him - in the third quarter. It remains to be seen if Rondo will have to serve some type of suspension for his actions in the third quarter that led to official Sean Washington kicking him out with three minutes to play in the third quarter.
SUPER SUB: Detroit's Jonas Jerebko was a force off the bench for the Pistons. He had 13 points, six rebounds and two steals in about 22 minutes.
TURNING POINT:Trailing Detroit 59-54 in the third quarter, Jermaine O'Neal was fouled with 6:50 to play in the quarter. A 72.4 percent free throw shooter this season, O'Neal missed both free throws. From there, the Pistons closed out the quarter with a 16-7 spurt and were able to maintain a double-digit throughout the entire fourth quarter.
BY THE NUMBERS: 40: That would be the number of points Detroit got off of the 24 turnovers made by the Celtics.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "We can't be a fragile team and get frustrated with the calls that they (officials) make. Some way, some how, we have to be mentally tougher than that."- Celtics forward Paul Pierce.