Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 81, Pistons 96

Ford Keys to the Game

Celtics 81, Pistons 96

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Chris Wilcox

Chris Wilcox rises high for a shot attempt over a Pistons defender.
Dan Lippitt/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

Doc Rivers called for a timeout with 5:17 remaining in the third quarter of tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons, and the reason for the timeout was clearly evident. Rivers believed the game was in the balance.

With his team trailing by seven points after playing from behind nearly all night, Rivers wanted to get his team a critical basket on what could have been the most important moment of the game. Heading out of the timeout, this game could go two ways. If the Celtics scored a bucket, the lead would be sliced down to five and would have had a legitimate shot at completing their comeback. If Boston missed, the Pistons would have a chance to make their lead approach double-digits yet again and break the Celtics’ spirits.

Boston came back onto the floor for this big possession and wound up getting a 20-foot jump shot attempt from Rajon Rondo. It’s a near guarantee that Rivers did not draw a play up to result in a long jumper for Rondo, and we all saw why.

The shot attempt clanked off the rim and Detroit reeled in the rebound. The Pistons then had an opportunity to put the clamps on this game and they eventually did so after an ugly stretch of plays.

Detroit and Boston committed back-to-back turnovers after Rondo’s missed jumper. The sequence came to a close when Brandon Knight intercepted an inbounds pass from Rondo and took it the length of the floor before being fouled by Boston’s point guard. Knight wound up hitting both of those free throws to put Detroit back on top by nine points.

Knight’s points, and the Celtics’ failure to score their own, sparked the run that put this game away. The Pistons went on to complete an 10-0 run to take their lead all the way up to 17 points with 1:47 left in the third.

Rivers’ plan backfired in this instance. His timeout was meant to provide a spark in a critical moment that would led to a huge comeback. Instead, Boston failed to execute and the Pistons took advantage.

With the lead swelled up to nearly 20, this game was all but over. Rivers pulled his starters with more than four minutes left in the game. At that point, he was already preparing for the Celtics’ showdown with the Mavericks on Monday night.

Key Box Score Line

Jermaine O’Neal has been one of the more consistent players on Boston’s team this season. He isn’t asked to do a lot, only to protect the basket and rebound. Everything else is just icing on the cake. He delivered on both of those fronts Sunday night, and there was some icing, too.

O’Neal recorded game highs of 11 rebounds and five blocks during his 26:47 of playing time. In the process, he also put up eight points on a solid 4-of-6 shooting performance and dished out one assist. He was about as active as possible while he was on the floor and was one of the lone bright spots for Boston on a very tough night.

Click the link below to take a look at O’Neal’s entire box score line.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Five Pistons scored in double-figures, led by Greg Monroe's 17 points.
  • Paul Pierce scored a game-high 18 points.
  • Jermaine O'Neal's five blocks were more than the Pistons accrued as a team.
  • Detroit's 29 made free throws nearly doubled the amount of free throws Boston attempted (15).
  • Rodney Stuckey's 15 free throws matched the number of free throws attempted by the Celtics.
  • O'Neal also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
  • Boston was outrebounded by a count of 52-37.
  • None of Boston's reserves scored more than seven points.
  • Rajon Rondo was ejected in the third quarter but still managed to lead the game with 10 assists.
  • Chris Wilcox put up 14 points and six rebounds.
  • Greg Monroe's 17 points and 10 rebounds accounted for the game's only double-double.
  • Each team had three players attempt at least 10 shots.
  • Boston committed 24 turnovers.
  • The final free throws attempted totals were 46 for Detroit and 15 for Boston.
  • The Celtics outshot the Pistons by a count of 44.4 percent to 37.8 percent but still lost by 15.
  • Detroit scored 42 points in the paint, compared to 20 by Boston.
  • The Pistons scored 29 second-chance points thanks to 16 offensive rebounds

Quote of the Night

Paul Pierce on the team's frustration with officiating during tonight's game: "It's too many times we're looking at officials to bail us out. We just got to understand we can't expect anything from referees."