Ford Keys to the Game: Pistons 98, Celtics 88

Ford Keys to the Game

Pistons 98, Celtics 88

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo does his best Superman impression as he defends an inbounds pass by the Detroit Pistons.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

With the Celtics leading by two at halftime of tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons, Doc Rivers said that, as a coach, he felt that his team was in deep trouble. He said he thought that lead should have been about 12 to 14 points rather than just two, and that allowing a struggling team like the Pistons to hang around would cause nothing but problems.

Rivers sure does have a great feel for his team and these games, because his nightmare at halftime came to fruition in the second half.

Boston’s offense completely fell apart in the second half, as the team resorted to one-on-one play with minimal ball movement. That poor offense led to even worse defense at the other end of the floor.

Despite their subpar play, the Celtics remained players in this game well into the final period. A brutal stretch of defensive play is what eventually doomed them in, though, and Rivers vividly recalled those plays during his postgame press conference.

“The stretch where they stretched the lead out, we had our bench in; we made some bone-head plays,” said Rivers. “We leave Ben Gordon to trap Damien Wilkins; we rotate to Ben Wallace out to the 3-point line; we give up an offensive rebound on a free throw. Those three possessions to me changed the game. It went from a two-point game to an eight-point game.”

That is the toughest pill for Boston to swallow; the fact that those plays weren’t made by Detroit as much as they were given up by the C’s. The Celtics brought the pain to themselves with unjustifiable decisions, and the Pistons wound up capitalizing on them.

Once the ball gets rolling for an underdog like the Pistons, it’s a quite a challenge to stop that momentum.

Key Box Score Line

Only one of Boston’s premier players showcased his talents tonight, and his name is Rajon Rondo. While Paul Pierce and Ray Allen struggled to a combined 20 points, Rondo was busy having a career night.

One game after tying his career high in points, Rondo went out and set a new career high in scoring with 35 points tonight. He had a fantastic shooting game, making 15 of his 27 shots, including his only attempt from downtown.

Due to his heightened scoring, Rondo obviously wasn’t able to rack up his customary double-digit assist total. He did, however, lead the game with six dimes and also contributed five rebounds and a game-high four steals.

Judging by the past two games, Rondo is putting together quite a case to prove that he was an All-Star snub this season.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston committed just seven turnovers, and those turnovers led to only seven points.
  • There were six lead changed and six ties in the game.
  • Rajon Rondo set a new career high with 35 points and also led the game with six assists and four steals.
  • Boston was outrebounded 44-33.
  • Rodney Stuckey shot a perfect 11-for-11 from the free-throw line.
  • Stuckey led the Pistons in scoring with 25 points.
  • Three Pistons, Stuckey, Greg Monroe and Ben Gordon, scored at least 22 points.
  • Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined for 20 points for the second consecutive game.
  • Three of Boston's starters, Pierce, Allen and Jermaine O'Neal, blocked two shots apiece.
  • Both teams tallied 16 assists.
  • Chris Wilcox scored 17 points and led the C's in rebounding with nine boards.
  • Ben Wallace did not score a single point, but he grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
  • O'Neal scored just one point for Boston in 22 minutes of playing time.
  • Boston's bench scored a combined 15 points, led by 10 from JaJuan Johnson.
  • The Celtics attempted three more free throws than Detroit, but made five less than the Pistons did.
  • Boston won the battles of points in the paint, second-chance points and fast break points, but still lost the game.
  • Stuckey's missed layup with 14.9 seconds remaining in the game would have given Detroit 100 points, which would have been the first time an opponent scored at least 100 against Boston in the past 26 games.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers on the play of Chris Wilcox: "He’s giving us exactly what we hoped he’d give us when we signed him: energy, athleticism, running the floor, finishing at the basket. So if he can stay where he’s at right now, I’m very happy with that."