The days when Isiah Thomas’ Pistons battled Larry Bird’s Celtics for supremacy are long past. Detroit fans today will have to settle for their team knocking Boston out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Still, with a 10-game losing streak that has all but snuffed out their own postseason hopes, the Pistons can be proud of their victory Sunday night at TD Garden.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led all scorers with 27 points, and buried a three-pointer with 2:05 left in overtime for a 98-90 lead that proved to be the margin of victory. He was assisted on that basket by Reggie Jackson, who with 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds flirted with another triple double. Andre Drummond added 18 points, four blocks and 22 rebounds – the latter his tenth game of 20 or more boards this season (and fourth in March).
Not unlike their game the previous night against Chicago (a stirring 107-91 comeback win), Detroit limped into the locker room down 47-41 after a second quarter in which they scored only 15 points. The third quarter was a 22-22 draw, and Boston was still maintaining a four-point lead with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Then Jackson went to work, converting two free throws after drawing a shooting foul on Phil Pressey to close the score to 85-83, and finding Tayshaun Prince open in the corner for a three to give the Pistons a one-point edge.
After Jae Crowder converted a three-point play to put the Celtics back ahead, Jackson got Brandon Bass to bite on a head fake and easily banked in a shot to tie the contest at 88 with less than a minute to go. Evan Turner and Jackson subsequently traded misses, sending the game into overtime.
Detroit won the tip and scored the next seven points to take a 95-88 lead. After Turner answered with a layup, Caldwell-Pope’s third three of the night and two more free throws by Jackson gave the winners a 100-90 lead with 1:39 left. The rest of the Pistons points came on free throws as Boston fruitlessly attempted to catch up by fouling.
Jodie Meeks contributed 14 points off the bench for Detroit. Caron Butler scored an effective 12 points as the starting small forward, and his three-pointer early in the third quarter broke the Pistons old club record of 582 that was set in 1996-97. Prince added nine more points (2-3 on threes). Spencer Dinwiddie was effective in relief at point guard, with six points, four assists (three turnovers), three rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 16 minutes. Anthony Tolliver went scoreless, missing all three of his threes after drawing a blank on all four versus the Bulls on Saturday night.
The home team was led by Turner with 23 points and Crowder with 19. Former Piston Jonas Jerebko scored 10 points and snagged nine rebounds, but his 4-12 shooting was illustrative of his new team’s inaccuracy. Boston shot only 36.2 percent, while Detroit shot 43.8. A 15-4 edge in points off the fast break also aided the visitors.
With the win, the Pistons are now 26-44 with 12 games left on their schedule. The Celtics fell to 30-39.