Let me start by saying that I could write the piece of my life and probably not do this game justice. 15 pages of notes. What a ride.....
Let's start with the fact that the Celtics shot 18% in the first quarter. Yes, I said 18%. Worst part was, the C's were attacking the basket well and most of the misses were decent shots from in close. That old saying "there was a lid on on the basket" was in full effect. We missed all manner of layups, short floaters, mid-range jumpers, long jumpers, etc. If it could be missed, we pretty much missed it.
Jeff's note: Watching the first quarter gave me the feeling that the C's really had the Pistons' shot blockers on the mind. Kept going for the reverse layup when a straight layup might have been better.
Maybe the C's were thrown off by the fact that the entire Fleet Center had to be evacuated prior to the game due to the fire alarms going off. Whatever it was, the words I closed with in the last recap were ringing in my ears "If we play like this against Detroit, we're going to get blown out by the half." Weird twist though: The Pistons shot 50%, the C's 18% and yet at the end of 1, the C's only trailed 20-14.
The 2nd team helped get the team back on track early in the second. PP, AW and GP all returned during the 6th minute and the C's trailed 31-29 with 6:21 left. Both teams were scoring back and forth on each other and when the C's called timeout at 3:09, the C's led 40-39 (after 2 PP FT's) and the Celtics FG% was starting to creep towards respectability at 32%, while the Pistons actually increased to 59%.
I know you're probably asking, were we going 2 for 1 on possessions? Nope, we were 15/17 at the FT line. The C's were doing a fair job of sharing and moving the ball and one example of that was when inside a minute, Raef saved a pass from going out of bounds, gave a quick pass to GP, who then swung it around the horn to 'Toine, who faked a shot and drove in for a score to make it 44 all.
Former Celtic Chauncey Billups go to the line on a questionable call against GP with :02.4 remaining on the clock. He hit both FT's, but as soon as the 2nd one went through the net, PP grabbed it and threw an inbounds pass all the way down the floor into the mid-paint area where GP somehow came down with in the middle of traffic and scored with :00.8 remaining. Somehow, through a combination of RD smoking every man they put in front of him, (either via drive, pull-up jumper, or a combination of both) Blount jumpers and hustle (wait, did I say that?) and PP FT's, the Celtics manage to go into the locker room knotted at 46 ALL.
**Walker had a pretty rough shooting night and his critics will be out tomorrow, there's little doubt of that. He rebounded, played defense and passed alright, but 4/19 FG and 0/5 3pt FG's will have the boo-birds calling him all manner of names. Even if a lot of those misses came inside the paint**
The C's started the 2nd half going right back to attacking the basket. AW hit a cutting TA in the paint and when the defense stepped to him, he dumped the ball to Raef under the basket where he was fouled, but only hit 1 of 2. PP hit a marvelous shot that Tommy raved about for a few minutes, when he got a mismatch on Big Ben Wallace and drove to the hole. PP released the ball about 5 ft out and banked a sweeping high rainbow shot over Big Ben's outstretched arms. He then hit a 3pter on the next trip.
'Toine drove and dumped the ball off to Raef, who got his points put in the book after Big Ben committed a goaltending violation by blocking the ball when it was within that magical vertical cylinder area above the rim. Timeout Detroit. 56-52 Celtics lead with 8:09 remaining. Out of the timeout, PP went to the hole on a spin move and the C's were now on a 9-2 run and led 58-52. GP scored on Billups at 6:52 to make it 60-54 (this was a nice match up to watch tonight. 12/9/8 for GP was just the kind of bounce back I was expecting out of him).
Carlos Arroyo hit a jumper over DWest's to make it 70-65 with 1:52 remaining and then Rasheed Wallace hit a 3pter with 1:08 to close the lead to 70-68. Blount collected a hard fought rebound and got Sheed to foul him in the process. He missed both FT's but it was just part of Blounts great night of hard work and clutch shooting for the C's (damn, did I say that?) DWest had a nice block on Arroyo to knock the ball out of bounds and then collected the ensuing rebound, outletted it way up court to RD who collect another easy dunk. 72-68 with :16.7 left. The score stayed that way to end the quarter and the Celtics have now gone from a completely embarrassing 18% FG shooting in the first stanza, to 40%. The Pistons also started to come back to earth, going down to 47%.
Sheed looked like he might try to take over as he hit a jumper on the initial possession of the quarter and the a 3pter with 10:37 and the C's now trailed by 1, 73-72. Big Al Jefferson scored on Antonio McDyess with that now familiar soft-hook. 74-73 with 10:08 left. When PP wasn't driving and pulling up to score, he was fed Blount for layups. Blount set a screen for RD on an inbounds play that netted the C's an open jumper. 'Toine had an open court steal and converted on the other end and with 6:40 left, the C's had a 84-81 lead.
Blount blocked Sheed and PP collected the loose ball and was fouled. Blount then hit a 15fter of a GP screen(there's a role reversal for you). Blount then hit GP in the post for a score and FT, after GP used a spin move to seal off Chauncey.
**A few of the many funny moments on the night came at 3:58, when RD and Ben Wallace both came down with a rebound and stood there tugging against each other, neither conceding the ball, even after the whistle was blown. This was only to be outdone by GP, when after a ball went out of bounds at 3:38 and ended up wet for the experience. GP calmly got the ball, sat on a courtside fans lap and used his jersey top to dry the ball while chatting with the fan.**
RD hit a 3pter with Tayshaun Prince blatantly face guarding him at 2:42 to make it 90-85. He then drove and kicked the ball baseline to GP, who hit a jumper over Billups. Timeout Detriot with 2:06 left and the Celtics leading 92-85. Billups hit a 3pter in transition and Rip Hamilton hit 2 of his 18 total FT's on the night and the Pistons close the gap to 93-90 with 1:08 left. PP drove to the hole and Sheed goaltended to make it 95-90 with :58 left.
Rip hit 2 more FT's after being fouled by PP and then GP was called for a phantom foul on a Billups 3pt attempt. Maybe the refs saw body contact, I do not know. I do know GP didn't foul him otherwise. Regardless, Chauncey hit all 3 FT's to tie the game with :15.8 left. Doc put the ball in PP's hands at the end of regulation and he got an isolation on the wing. He managed to get Ben Wallace on him via a switch and got a decent shot off that didn't fall. End of Regulation: 95 ALL.
'Toine opened the scoring in overtime with a nice 2nd effort on his own miss. However, Rip tied it back up at 97 with more FT's. Blount hit a 12ft jumper at 3:15 and then another mid-range jumper at 2:33 and the C's led 101-97. Prince answered with a 3pter to close the lead to 101-100 with 2:20 remaining. Blount continued his big game with a block on Rip, who got by RD with :52.3 left. Billups hit a jumper with :50.5 left after GP got caught up in a screen. The Pistons now led 102-101 and the Celtics took a timeout.
RD hit a jumper out front after collecting the ball that Big Ben swatted on a PP drive. 103-102 with :29 remaining. PP collected a rebound on a Prince miss with :08.1 and the C's still leading 103-102. Here's where things get weird. Doc subbed 'Toine out for the next offensive possession in favor of DWest, who is having a better time at the FT line than 'Toine is of late (then again, who isn't?) The C's got the inbound to PP, who was fouled, but only made 1 of 2 FT's and the C's led 104-102 with :07.5 left. 'Toine now goes back into the game to play defense. On the inbounds play, 'Toine either cheated off his man to get the steal of RD missed a switch, because Sheed ended up WIDE OPEN under the basket and a simple pass netted a dunk. :06.7 left and it's 104 ALL. RD got the iso this time, but couldn't score on Rip. End of OT #1: 104 ALL.
GP fouled Billups at the 4:45 mark and the 2 ensuing FT's saw Detriot in front 106-104. RD then fouled out of the game at 4:17. Rip hit another FT and then threw an alley-oop to Prince with 3:52 left and the C's now trail 109-104. (It was clouding over quickly and I needed karma, so I put my Celtics jersey over the Celtics t-shirt I was already wearing and rubbed my Paul Pierce bobblehead for luck.) Timeout Celtics.
TA came in for DWest to take the assignment on Rip at the 3:30 mark with the C's still trailing 109-106. However, that assignment didn't last long as Rip fouled out at 3:06 and DWest came back in. Prince hit a deep baseline jumper to put the Pistons ahead 111-106. 'Toine missed a 3pter, but DWest showed some terrific timing on the rebound, getting it while still in the air for an easy and uncontested putback. 111-108 with 2:15 remaining.
PP got to the line again on a call, that even as a Celtic fan, I have to admit was incredibly late (It was one of those calls where it was apparent that the refs were waiting to see if it went in before blowing the whistle). Larry Brown of course went ballistic and got T'ed up for complaining. PP hit all 3 FT's and it's out-houses for everyone at 111-111. Sheed tipped in a miss at 1:32 to put Detroit back out front 113-111. PP then went right back to work abusing Prince and at 1:15 it was tied again, this time at 113 ALL.
The C's then caught a break, as Prince pulled a Ricky Davis and stepped on the sideline to turn the ball over. Timeout with :45.6 remaining. PP then hit a tough fade away 17fter over Sheed with :20 left to put the C's in front for good at 115-113. He then finished the nights effort as the Pistons swung the ball over to Prince on the wing for a 3pter, which PP got enough of to keep the ball from reaching the rim. Celtics win, CELTICS WIN!!!
Final Score: 115-113 Celtics
Player of the Game: The Truth is all you need
Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, and Gary Payton all had pretty decent games, but this Friday night special goes to PP. 38pts, 12 rbs and 3 assts.
** The folks that couldn't watch this one missed one of the weirdest, funniest, and most exciting game in a while. It's 1:30 AM I need to go to bed. As the famous baseball call goes: "I've seen enough to know I've seen too much". Goodnight Celtic Nation**