'Sheed's return to the Palace was a tale of two halves, much like a split of his 5 1/2 years with the Pistons. The Celtics shot 58% in the first half, outscoring Detroit 56-48. If it weren't for an Austin Daye buzzer-beater, the Pistons would have trailed by 11. A completely different Pistons team took the floor in the second half, putting the clamps down on defense and holding the C's to just 30 total points on 27% shooting. Detroit scored less in the second half (44) than they did in the first, but much better defense, ball control (five turnovers compared to 14 in the first half), and outscoring the C's bench 43-12 on the night made the difference overall.
Oh, and this happened:
Rodney F. Stuckey. This man put the team on his back tonight. He scored a game-high 27 points on 11-24 shooting, had a career high 11 rebounds, seven dimes, and two steals in 41+ minutes. He was also the leading player in the plus/minus category at plus-14.
I hate to pick a "bad" after a win like this, but unfortunately, Richard Hamilton probably deserves some mentioning here. He had seven turnovers, and if it weren't for some nice catches he could have had plenty more. He also picked up a very 'Sheed technical foul in the first half.
In Rip's defense, he didn't have a turnover in the second half, he hit a couple big shots in the fourth, and he also cancelled out the seven turnovers with eight assists.
The Ron Lester Unsung Hero:
Jason Maxiell. There were times in the second quarter I wondered, "How is this even remotely close right now?" and that it was only a matter of time the Celtics would run away with it. Maxiell perhaps prevented it from getting out of hand by answering a pair of Celtics' baskets to keep the game within 10.
In the third quarter, the Pistons gained important momentum when he shamed 'Sheed and got the DBB crowd talking baby buffets. Detroit went on to gain the lead momentarily, only to lose it on the next possession. Maxiell answered, regaining the lead for the Pistons, and then collected steals on consecutive defensive possessions to help the Pistons increase the lead to five. He didn't score or have a major contribution thereafter, but he did enough to earn him the TRLUH tonight, in my opinion. Also, for what it's worth, he was second on the team with a plus-10.
The Pistons enter the second half of the season on a high note. The Celtics will say they were without KG and are in the middle of a little rut (3 straight losses now), but that shouldn't take away from how great this win is. Anybody who makes those excuses for the Celtics should be reminded that Detroit was missing four key players.
Unfortunately, the Pistons 13-game losing streak put somewhat of a damper on their playoff chances, but they trail the 8th seed Bulls by just 3.5 games after their loss to the Clippers tonight.
With five games left on this home stand, the Pistons enter the second half of games this year off on the right foot. I'd finish with "anything is possible," but thanks to KG, that phrase sucks now. (Another takeaway? It not only feels good when the Pistons beat the Celtics, but also when one of the last clips they show on the broadcast is Paul Pierce pouting as he walks off the court).