We interrupt your regularly scheduled trade rumblings to talk about the currently first place Celtics, who lost a tough one to the Pistons, 107-106 tonight. Brandon Jennings had 28 points and 14 assists (really?), Josh Smith had 20 points and Andre Drummond had 14 points and 16 boards for Detroit. The Celtics had seven guys in double figures, led by Jared Sullinger's 19.
The first quarter couldn't have gone much better for the Celtics, who scored a season high 42 points in the opening quarter. Boston's starting line-up was phenomenal early on, pushing the Celtics to leads of 6-0, 21-10 and 37-20. It appeared the Cs would lead by "only" 17 points at the end of the frame, but with 0.2 seconds left Gerald Wallace made a perfect impounds pass (something he is making a habit of) to Sullinger at the rim, and Sully tipped it in.
Quarter #2 started off much the same way Quarter #1 ended, and Boston's lead was 52-32 with 6:45 to go in the first half. However, the Pistons finally woke up and began punishing the Celtics inside. Greg Monroe had seven points in a span of two minutes as Detroit cut the Celtics lead in half heading into the break.
In what has become a bad habit, the Celtics started the second half in the exact opposite manner that they started the first. The Celts have consistently gotten out to big leads this season, only to see those leads evaporate in the 3rd quarter. Tonight was no different. The Pistons came out of the halftime break with far more energy, and went on a 21-10 run to take their first lead of the game, 74-73.
For much of the late third and early fourth quarters, the teams traded buckets and turnovers, with neither team able to pull away. But Jennings hit a crucial three to beat the shot clock over Phil Pressey and break an 89-89 tie. Jennings dagger keyed an 11-4 Pistons run, putting Detroit up seven.
The Celtics were still down seven with under three minutes to go, but like this team has done all season, they fought back. Jordan Crawford, who struggled most of the night, cut the deficit to four with an old fashioned three-point play, and then Sullinger scored five consecutive points, including a go ahead three-pointer to put the Celtics up 105-104 with 1:01 remaining.
But Jennings again came up big, drilling a three of his own with 46.7 left to put Detroit up two. After Sully made one of two free throws and the Pistons came up empty on their end, the Celtics had the ball trailing by one point with 17.7 on the clock. But it just wasn't the Celtics night. Brandon Bass dribbled most of the clock out before Stevens called a second timeout to set up the potential game-winner with 5 seconds left. But Jeff Green couldn't get it to go over Smith..and the Pistons held on to win it.
The Celtics are now 12-15, and remain the four-seed in the East. Next game: Saturday at 1pm vs the Wizards at the Garden.