Boston Blitz

Celtics 3-point barrage, 38-point third quarter too much for Pistons


The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue

WHITE HOT – Boston matched its season scoring average of 95 points in three quarters, hitting eight 3-point shots in the third quarter alone while scoring 38 points, and went on to a 118-111 win over the Pistons, their third straight loss as they fell to 24-39 with 19 games left. The Pistons fell behind by 17 points in the third quarter, but pulled within four and had the ball with 30 seconds to play when Kyle Singler missed a contested layup. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 27 points and hit 5 of 12 3-pointers, four in the third quarter alone when he scored 14 points. The starting Pistons frontcourt of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith (28 points) combined for 68 points and 47 rebounds. The Pistons had been 2-0 against Boston, coming from 21 down to win at the TD Garden in December. Rajon Rondo had 18 assists in 33 minutes for Boston.

BLUE COLLAR – Since his 26-rebound game against the Knicks last Monday, Andre Drummond had managed only 14 rebounds over the past two games. He sailed past that mark early in the second quarter against Boston. After putting up 12 points and 13 rebounds in the first half to keep the Pistons within striking distance, Drummond finished with 18 points and 22 rebounds. Drummond was scoreless in the fourth quarter, just missing his second career 20-20 game.

RED FLAG – Turnovers and poor defensive rebounding dug the Pistons a sizable first-half hole against Boston. The Celtics had six offensive rebounds in the first quarter, which allowed them to score 26 points despite shooting only 40 percent, and nine in the first half. The Pistons committed 12 first-half turnovers, which Boston converted into 16 points. The Pistons turned the ball over just four times in the second half and wound up dominating the glass, 54-39. But their third-quarter 3-point defense allowed Boston – which hit 2 of 14 in the first half – to make 8 of 13 from the arc.

BOSTON – If there’s one thing the Pistons did consistently well in John Loyer’s first dozen games, it was take care of the basketball: 11 a game, No. 2 in the NBA, as Loyer volunteered after Sunday’s latest damaging loss. Sure enough, turnovers conspired with a few other flaws to be their undoing in Boston.

That’s the way it goes when you’re going bad. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Or, as Loyer would say after the 118-111 loss to Boston, “You fix one little hole and another one pops up.”

Against a Boston team that effectively conceded its playoff chances when it traded away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last summer, a new problem reared its head in virtually every quarter.

The Pistons allowed six offensive rebounds in the first quarter, turned the ball over five times in the second quarter and then watched the Celtics drop 8 of 13 triples in the third quarter when the Pistons fell 17 points behind. The fourth quarter saw the Pistons fight back within four with less than a minute to play and they were a Kyle Singler layup from pulling within two with 28 seconds left, a shot Jared Sullinger contested.

Contesting shots – or the lack of it – was the story of the game for Loyer. Jeff Green, who led Boston with 27 points, hit three triples in less than a minute and a half during a 38-point Celtics third quarter, negating one of the best-scoring quarters of Detroit’s season with 35 points.

We scored 111 points had a good chance to win the game, but we didn’t defend."

- John Loyer on the game
Full game quotes
“We score enough to win,” he said. “We’ve got to defend. You score 111 points, you better have a good chance to win the game. We didn’t defend. We gave them way too many easy baskets. But the biggest thing to me was offensive rebounds in the first half and just our total lack of second and third efforts to go contest shots.”

Those glaring weaknesses – surrendering offensive rebounds, turning the ball over and watching the Celtics assault the 3-point line – overwhelmed their dominant strengths/

Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond all had double-doubles for the Pistons before the third quarter was out, combining for 68 points and 47 rebounds. Will Bynum scored 15 points to lead the fourth-quarter charge. But all the Pistons had to show for it was another lost opportunity to launch a playoff drive as the season entered the final quarter.

“Very disappointing,” Monroe said after following up Friday’s 20-point, 15-rebound outing at Minnesota with 22 and 14 against the Celtics. “We have to find a way to win these games on the road.”

Drummond came up two points shy of his second 20-20 game, finishing with 22 rebounds, and Smith had 28 points and 11 boards. The Pistons dominated points in the paint, 64-44, and wound up with a 54-39 rebounding edge. But the Celtics just made too many easy baskets set up by 38 assists, 19 of them from Rajon Rondo in only 33 minutes.

“We were just trying to back up off of him and let him take outside shots,” Bynum said. “Sometimes when you back up like that, he’s able to just run the team and get guys the basketball where they need it. He was a tough cover tonight.”

“They had a lot of just pass-catch-shoot,” Loyer said, again pointing the finger at his team’s defensive intensity. “Some were off not closing out. Most of theirs weren’t off the bounce, they were off the catch. That led to a high number, but give them credit.”

Other than Bynum’s contributions, the Pistons didn’t get much from their bench. Rodney Stuckey was 1 of 4 in 17 minutes, finishing with three points. Boston, meanwhile, got 40 points off its bench, including big numbers for rookie Kelly Olynyk (18 points, six rebounds in 18 minutes) and Jared Sullinger (14 points, eight rebounds).

That’s what happens when a team that averages 95 points a game matches its typical productivity in three quarters. The Celtics came into the game 28th in the NBA in 3-point shooting and wound up hitting 32 percent, below the league average. But their 10 makes were critical, well above their norm, and the eight in the third quarter while the Celtics were just as hapless defensively proved back breakers.

The rest of the night, it was a bunch of guys like Olynyk, Sullinger and Kris Humphries making mid-range jump shots without a defender within arm’s reach.

“They beat us with 16-foot jump shots,” Loyer lamented. They’re a team with a lot of good mid-range shooters and they made shots tonight.”