Ford Keys to the Game: Pistons 107, Celtics 106

Pistons 107, Celtics 106 - Boston, MA
By Marc D'Amico, December 18, 2013

Key Moment

When the Boston Celtics need a game-winning bucket, the usually go to Jeff Green, and it usually pays off.

They unsuccessfully went to him Wednesday night, but they may have went to him too late.

Green missed a running, right-handed hook shot at the buzzer and the Celtics fell to the Pistons 107-106. Green had just 5.0 seconds to get off the potential game-winner due to the play that took place just seconds before.

Boston’s defense got a critical stop with 18.9 seconds left thanks to some fantastic individual play by Avery Bradley. Bradley forced Brandon Jennings into a missed 3-pointer and Jared Sullinger grabbed the board before Brad Stevens called for a timeout.

The Celtics came back onto the floor and ran a peculiar play: an isolation post-up for Brandon Bass on the right wing. He grabbed the inbound pass, assessed the court and took a few dribbles as the clock ticked down.

Many were wondering how that could have been the play, particularly against such a lengthy Pistons frontline, and Stevens explained after the game that it actually wasn’t the main action he had drawn up.

“There was a flare away we were setting, actually, for Sullinger,” Stevens explained. “Brandon didn’t think it was there, and it probably wasn’t, so it was great defense on Detroit’s part.

“He could have tried to score that, but at the same time what’s going through his head probably is the play first and then he didn’t end up taking the shot, so we called a timeout.”

That timeout left the Celtics with exactly five seconds to score the winning basket. Those sitting close to the court, though, know that they should have had closer to eight seconds.

Jordan Crawford yelled and motioned for a timeout from about 10 feet inside halfcourt when it became clear that Bass was stuck along the baseline. To the naked eye, that timeout request came about three seconds before the timeout was actually awarded.

Those three seconds changed the complexion of the final play, which eventually was run for Green. Green was able to get a shot off but was unable to sink it.

The Celtics went to him in crunch time, but it may have been a little too late thanks to that botched first play and a late timeout.

Key Box Score Line

These are the nights that everyone wonders how great Brandon Jennings can be. Jennings, who has floated between average and greatness throughout his five NBA seasons, was phenomenal Wednesday night in Boston.

The mercurial point guard finished the contest as the leader – and by far – in both points and assists. He scored 28 points on 9-of-21 shooting, which included a 5-of-8 performance from long range. Jennings also dished out 14 helpers. The game’s next-highest scoring output was from teammate Josh Smith, who scored 20, and the next-highest assist total was from Jordan Crawford, who had six.

Speaking of six, Jennings scored six of his 28 points in the final frame. All of those points arrived via the 3-point shot, as he made two of his three attempts in the quarter to lead Detroit to a victory.

Box Score Nuggets

  • In surprising fashion, the Celtics out-rebounded the Pistons 41-36 and out-scored them 54-52 in the paint.
  • Detroit's scoring decreased by one point in each of the final three quarters, from 29 to 28 to 27.
  • Seven Celtics scored in double-figures, led by Jared Sullinger's 19.
  • Sullinger also led the Celtics in rebounds with eight.
  • Boston led by as many as 21 points.
  • Andre Drummond's 16 rebounds accounted for nearly half of Detroit's boards on the night (36).
  • Brandon Jennings' 14 assists were more than double the next-highest total by any other player.
  • Jennings also led the game in scoring with 28 points.
  • Six Celtics committed at least two turnovers.
  • Detroit converted Boston's 18 turnovers into 30 points.
  • The Celtics scored 42 points in the first quarter, their highest-scoring quarter of the season.
  • The Pistons shot 10-of-27 from 3-point range.
  • Both teams scored 22 fast break points.
  • Six Celtics finished with one steal.

Quote of the Night

I hate to celebrate that, because I think that that’s how you always should play. That’s my outlook on sports.
Brad Stevens on his team playing hard night after night

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