(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Pistons win a wild one, snap Boston’s 9-game streak

Three quick observations from Wednesday night’s 112-111 win over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden

BATTLE IN BEANTOWN – Boston won by 48 points at Philadelphia on Tuesday to run its winning streak to an NBA-best nine in a row and the Pistons took an eight-game losing streak into the TD Garden with the All-Star break beckoning. Pretty easy script, right? Well, not so fast. Jerami Grant had a big fourth quarter and the Pistons survived Jayson Tatum’s 17-footer at the buzzer to pull out the win. The Pistons took a six-point lead with nine minutes to play, only to see Boston charge back to go ahead by eight with a 20-6 run. But the Pistons came back again, tying the game at 108 on Jerami Grant’s driving layup with 1:50 to play. The Pistons went ahead with 43 seconds to go on Saddiq Bey’s tip-in, but Boston countered 11 seconds later with an Al Horford triple to go ahead by a point. The Pistons called timeout and dialed up a play that produced a shot in the paint for Jerami Grant, who scored with 19 seconds left to put the Pistons ahead by one. Cade Cunningham blocked Jaylen Brown’s twisting runner on the next possession and the Pistons came up with the loose ball. But after a timeout with the Pistons inbounding along the sideline, Cory Joseph’s pass intended for Cunningham was intercepted by Derrick White. The Celtics had 6.9 seconds left and got the ball in the hands of Tatum, but his contested shot bounced off the rim and the buzzer sounded as the Pistons secured the rebound. The Pistons were held to 48 points in the first half by a Celtics team that’s had the NBA’s top-ranked defense since Christmas, but Detroit broke loose for 21 points in less than six minutes of the third quarter to open a five-point lead with both teams firing volleys back and forth the rest of the way. Boston, playing without starters Marcus Smart and Robert Williams, got 31 points from Jaylen Brown. Grant led the Pistons with 24 while Bey (20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) and Cade Cunningham (20 points, eight rebounds, six assists)

MORE LIKE IT – Kelly Olynyk didn’t appear to have been particularly bothered by the 33-game layoff he endured while recovering from a knee injury suffered in early November, scoring 22 points in 22 minutes when he returned to spark a comeback win at Sacramento on Jan. 19. But after playing another game, Olynyk landed in NBA health and safety protocols and missed another four games – then struggled mightily in his return over the next eight games. “COVID is real,” Dwane Casey said before the game. “I see a difference in his approach coming back vs. the first time. He was lively and moving around. It set him back. He’ll pull out of it.” Olynyk will feel better about himself going into the All-Star break after a 15-point, six-rebound outing in 17 minutes. Olynyk averaged 4.6 points over those eight games and shot 3 of 20 from the 3-point arc with most shots coming up short. But he looked much more like himself in Boston, where he spent his first four NBA seasons, hitting back-to-back wing triples in the first quarter to get himself going. The Pistons also got some early scoring from Isaiah Stewart, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds for a fifth straight game scoring in double figures, a career best. Stewart has been getting more paint touches of late and had averaged 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds over his last four games. Stewart didn’t play with newly acquired Marvin Bagley III when Bagley debuted at Washington on Monday, but they overlapped for a few minutes in Wednesday’s second quarter and again in the fourth quarter.

WORKING VACATION – The Pistons won’t be represented in Sunday’s All-Star game but they’ll have three of their core young players in action on Friday night as part of All-Star Weekend. Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart are all headed to the Rising Stars tournament in Cleveland as part of All-Star Weekend (9-11 p.m. Friday, TNT). Bey and Stewart will be teammates on Team Isiah while Cunningham will play on Team Barry. This year’s format calls for four teams and Team Barry will play Team Isiah in one of the two games with the winners advancing to play each other for the championship, all to be completed in a two-hour window. Each team contains a mix of first- and second-year players plus one member each of the G League Ignite roster. Teams were named for the former NBA greats who’ll serve as coaches: Isiah Thomas, Rick Barry, James Worthy and Gary Payton. Cunningham will also participate in the Skills Challenge on a team along with fellow rookies Scottie Barnes and Josh Giddey.