C's Hold on for Win After Third-Quarter Run
ORLANDO – The Boston Celtics returned to the court Wednesday night and took down the Detroit Pistons by a score of 92-90. The win pushes Boston’s record to 2-1 on the week.
The C’s took control of the game with a strong finish to the third quarter. Following a 54-54 tie, they outscored the Pistons 20-7 to close the period and they took an 80-68 lead into the final frame.
Balanced scoring was the name of the game as Boston opened up its largest lead of the game. Seven C’s scored during the third-quarter spurt, led by six points from Mike Moser. Marcus Smart also contributed five points during the run.
“I try to tell guys, ‘If we win, we all look good,’” Phil Pressey said after the win. “And when you’re winning, guys are making passes and playing the game the right way. The game honors playing the right way, and we did that today.”
While Boston enjoyed a terrific team performance, a damper was thrown on the contest in the midst of the team’s third-quarter run. Dairis Bertans, who has played well for the Celtics this week, was fouled hard on a fast break with 2:24 remaining in the third. He collided face-first with the basket stanchion, resulting in what seemed in real time to be extreme whiplash.
Bertans was down on the court for several minutes as Boston’s medical team tended to him. He was eventually taken off the court in a stretcher and brought to Florida Hospital, where he is currently being examined.
“Really scary,” said Celtics summer league head coach Jay Larranaga. “He’s such a nice kid. It wouldn’t matter who the player was, you care about them, but you just hope for the best for him.”
Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren told reporters after the game that Bertans has undergone a precautionary CT scan that came back negative. Zarren said that Bertans has feeling in all of his extremities and is expected to fully recover from the collision.
Bertans’ fall was certainly the most frightening moment of the game, but Detroit threw another scare into Boston during the final two minutes of the contest. Following a 10-point Celtics lead with 1:58 remaining, the Pistons scored 11 of the game’s next 14 points make it a 91-89 game with 5.2 seconds left.
Larranaga opted to call a timeout at that time and advance the ball into the frontcourt after Kentaveous Caldwell-Pope nailed a 3 for Detroit. Larranaga drew up a play that got the ball into Phil Pressey’s hands, and he was fouled with 3.5 seconds left on the clock. Pressey went to the line and made one of his two attempts to put the Celtics on top by three.
Detroit then called a timeout of its own to advance the ball to the frontcourt. Its ensuing play was not very successful, as Boston fouled center Tim Olbrecht and sent him to the line. Olbrecht made the first attempt but missed the second, which led to a wild final two seconds.
Smart hauled in the rebound off the missed free throw in the left corner of the court, seemingly giving him the opportunity to run out the clock and win the game. However, as Smart was pressured, a referee blew the whistle and said that he stepped out of bounds.
That call gave Detroit an opportunity to tie or win the game with 0.4 seconds remaining. Caldwell-Pope got a look at a 3-pointer from the left wing but his shot missed off the glass, leaving Boston with a slim two-point victory.
The Celtics finished with six players in double-figures. Kelly Olynyk led the way with 16 points, while Smart and Pressey contributed 14 apiece. Olynyk also grabbed nine boards, and Smart pitched in five rebounds, six assists and two steals.
Boston will be back in action at 5 p.m. on Thursday when it takes on the league’s host team, the Orlando Magic. A lopsided win could put the Celtics in position to compete on Friday for the league’s championship.