Ford Keys to the Game: Pistons 82, Celtics 86

Ford Keys to the Game

Pistons 82, Celtics 86

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen

Paul Pierce and Ray Allen exchange a high-flying hip bump after Allen drains the winning shot with 24.5 seconds remaining in the game.
Elsa/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

If for some crazy reason you needed a reminder to never sleep on Ray Allen, look no further than tonight. The Detroit Pistons didn’t need that reminder, but they got it anyway.

Allen headed into tonight’s game with shooting numbers this month that would typically be categorized as ridiculous: 51.7 percent shooting from the field, 70.0 percent shooting from 3-point range and 87.0 percent shooting from the free-throw line. He wasn’t quite on par with that pace tonight. In fact, he wasn’t even close.

Boston’s sharpshooter had put together a 1-for-7 shooting night heading into the final 30 seconds of the game. Four of those misses were from 3-point range, where he didn’t hit a shot all night. Yes, two of those shots from downtown were desperation heaves as the shot clock expired, but they still count.

When the Celtics called a timeout with 31.8 seconds remaining in the game and the score knotted up at 82-82, the entire building had to have assumed Doc Rivers would go to Paul Pierce for the game-winning shot attempt. After all, Pierce had just hit a jumper less than a minute earlier to tie the game up at 82-82, and he was the only Celtic starter who could hit the ocean with a beach ball.

Well, if everyone thought the C’s would go to Pierce, that’s exactly what Rivers wanted.

The ball was inbounded to Allen near half court, but he immediately passed the ball away and sprinted to the baseline, attempting to leave his defender in the dust. When he turned and ran along the baseline, from left to right, he caught a pick from one of his teammates and curled up toward the right wing. That's when Rajon Rondo found him open off of the pick, so he threw the pass and allowed Allen, the first option on the play, to go to work.

"When we drew it up, you could tell, they thought it would work and they went with it," said Rivers.

It did work, because there was no doubt that the ball was going in from the moment it left Allen’s hands. When it did, the Celtics had gained a lead with 24.5 seconds remaining, and Detroit was forced to call a timeout.

The minor problem is that Boston, and Detroit for that matter, didn’t know what the Celtics’ lead was. Allen’s shot was called a 3-pointer, but it was close enough to be reviewed by the referees during the stoppage of play. It was deemed that Allen’s feet were on the line, which was clearly the right call, and the shot was changed to a two-pointer, leaving the C’s with an 84-82 lead.

When the shot fell through the net, the crowd exploded and then everyone seemingly thought in unison, “This guy is ridiculous! Never count him out!” We’re not sure if the Pistons did or not, but Allen made them pay either way.

Rodney Stuckey, who was defended and contacted by Glen Davis, missed Detroit’s shot on its ensuing possession and Kevin Garnett swooped in for the rebound. Boston tacked on two more free throws in the final 16.6 seconds, and with that the C’s had notched their fourth straight victory, 86-82.

Key Box Score Line

This wasn’t a night the league’s top shooting team will write home about, that’s for sure. Everyone on Boston’s team not named Paul Pierce combined to shoot just 26-of-61 in tonight’s game, good for 42.6 percent. Pierce, however, avoided the shooting plague and was able to notch a big night at the offensive end.

The Captain dropped in 22 points tonight on an efficient 8-of-15 shooting from the floor that included a 3-of-4 performance from downtown. Pierce also grabbed five rebounds to go along with three assists. His plus/minus rating of plus-seven was by far the highest of the game by any starter (the next-highest was plus-three by Chris Wilcox).

There are some games in which a team simply needs a clutch performance by its leader, and Pierce, the longtime Celtics captain, came up huge with one tonight. He was the only Celtic to score more than 12 points in the game, and without his efficient scoring at the offensive end the C’s might have been dealt a second loss of the season to Detroit.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Semih Erden's plus/minus rating of plus-nine was the highest of the game.
  • Paul Pierce scored a game-high 22 points.
  • Boston outscored Detroit 50-42 in the paint.
  • Rajon Rondo's eight assists, more than five below his season average, were a game high.
  • Boston outrebounded Detroit 47-34.
  • The pistons shot only 41.9 percent as a team.
  • Shaquille O'Neal led the game with 12 rebounds and also scored 12 points. His 12 boards were a season high.
  • Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 15 points.
  • Four Celtics scored in double-figures, but Pierce was the only player of that group to notch more than 12 points.
  • Ray Allen, who scored the winning basket, finished with only seven points on 2-of-8 shooting.
  • Detroit, which shot a blistering 10-of-15 from downtown against Boston on Dec. 29, 2010, shot only 4-for-15 from behind the arc tonight.
  • Glen Davis came off the bench to score 11 points and grab six rebounds for Boston.
  • Two Pistons, Tayshaun Prince and Greg Monroe, each scored 13 points.
  • Five Pistons scored at least 10 points, but none scored more than 15.
  • There were 47 free throws attempted in the game, but Glen Davis (six attempts) was the only player to attempt more than five.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on Shaquille O'Neal's game: "I thought Shaq was the difference in the game, with his energy. Forget his size and all that. His size and energy. I thought Shaq was – he won the game for us tonight. He did all the little things: crashed the glass, was physical, blocked shots. He was absolutely wonderful tonight."