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Pistons teach Celtics how to close out a game

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That's Chauncey going to work in the fourth quarter. I almost wish this wasn't just a highlight reel, though, because Billups' out-of-nowhere turnover with 5.1 seconds left makes those last two free throws taste all the better. (What do game-winning free throws taste like? Like laughter and relief. Figure that one out.) Or, as LawyerBoy said in the game comments, "Redemption, thy name is Chauncey Billups."

To further appreciate those free throws, realize that Chauncey's pump-fake wasn't just a complete shot in the dark. From ESPN's Chris Sheridan (via Mike Payne):

When did the Pistons deliver the knockout punch? Well, the play-by-play and the replays will tell you it came when Billups faked Tony Allen off his feet and drew a foul with 0.1 seconds left that sent him to the line for the tie-breaking and game-deciding free throws. But a big assist came moments earlier when the Pistons were exiting their timeout and Tayshaun Prince noticed that Tony Allen had checked back in as a defender.

Chauncey Billups earns his trip to the winning free throws with a pump fake.

"Tay told Chauncey to give Tony Allen a pump fake because Tony was just coming in off the bench cold," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said.

Billups confirmed the story, saying Prince gave the same message to Richard Hamilton knowing that one of the two was going to end up with the ball in his hands for the final shot.

It's nice to see that Tayshaun ended up having a hand in the win, despite being the team's eighth-leading scorer with just two points. To his credit, Prince did a hell of a job on the defensive end, holding Paul Pierce to just 11 points on 5-16 shooting. And, for what it's worth, he's the only member of the starting lineup to finish the game with a positive +/- minus number (+3).

The bench deserves a lot of credit. Lindsey Hunter's defense early in the fourth was obviously key for the Pistons to finally get over the hump and take the lead. Jason Maxiell finished with a pedestrian three points and four rebounds, but he was on the floor for two of Detroit's biggest runs in the second and fourth quarter, finishing the game a game-high +11. And Arron Afflalo continues to impress on both sides of the court, earning praise from Flip Saunders after the game. From the Detroit Free Press:

"I think one of the turning points was Arron in the fourth quarter," coach Flip Saunders said. "We gave Rip a few minutes, and (Arron) went after Ray (Allen) and got into it with KG. He didn't back down and showed signs of what we thought -- he can be a great defender."

This was only Boston's third loss of the year, and their first at home. Needless to say, this team simply doesn't have much experience dealing with anguish or frustration, and it seemed to show after the game in the locker room. From the Boston Globe:

"It was very odd. It kind of felt like the end of the world," Celtics center Kendrick Perkins said. "It's a little different when we beat ourselves, you know what I'm saying? That's how I feel.

"It was a little dead [in the locker room]. It was the first game where I saw that guys were a little disappointed at each other. There was a lot of pointing fingers tonight for some reason . . . But it was nothing serious. We each got to look ourselves in the mirror and see what we do right [and wrong]. The rest will take care of itself."

I wonder if anyone was pointing their finger at Perk for his lack of focus on the final play of the game ...

Coming out of the timeout, Kendrick Perkins had no idea where to go, which had head coach Doc Rivers screaming frantically to try and get him in position.

As I said in my brief comments on FanHouse, the Pistons are an experienced and savvy team; the Celtics, not. So far the Celtics have proven they can blow out most any team in the league, but they've yet to prove they can consistently win the close ones -- and more importantly, bounce back after failing to win.

Given all of their success over the last several years, the Pistons can keep a regular season game, whether it's a win or a loss, in its proper perspective. The Celtics? As talented as KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce may be, they're also kind of new at this winning thing, or at least out of practice. It's been three years since either of those three have played on a winning team. They're used to being the underdog, when wins were unexpected and losses didn't sting quite as much. Can they handle losing a game they were favored to win without pointing fingers or assigning blame? It seems not.

As for the Pistons, they should hope that some of the intensity from this game carries over to Friday's game when they host the Grizzlies at the Palace. It's the Grizzlies, who cares, right? Wrong: those guys just knocked off the Spurs last night.