Recap: Game 32 (at Detroit)

RECAP: BOSTON CELTICS AT DETROIT PISTONS

Out of the Celtics' three losses (and isn't it great that we're into January and you can still count the number of losses on just one hand?), you have to believe that the one against Detroit still stings the players the most ... It was an opportunity for them to disprove their detractors against a quality Eastern Conference opponent, but some costly mental lapses - one in particular that Allan Tony won't soon forget - denied them a victory.

This would be their chance to make amends, and erase the sting - if only temporarily - of that defeat ...

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January 5, 2008
7:30 PM EST (Comcast SportsNet)
The Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit, MI)
Announcers
: Mike An-Gorman-agement and Tommy "Want to Touch the" Heinsohn ; Gary and Donny "We Are" Marshall (in-studio) ; Greg "Old Saint" Dickerson (sideline reporter)
Celtics Starting Lineup: Rayden, I've Got a Rajon Rondo, Perk'd Off, Kevvy G, Da Troof
Pistons Starting Lineup: Richard "Green Eggs and" Hamilton, Lepre-Chauncey Billups, Diaper-Rasheed Wallace, Antonio "Loaded" McDyess, Tayshaun "Of the Dead" Prince

FIRST QUARTER

Perkins wins the opening tap against Rasheed, as the ball goes out to Rondo; he gets the ball to Garnett, who passes inside to Allen. His shot is partially blocked by Hamilton, but Ray is able to recover the loose ball and kicks it back out to KG. In one motion, Kevin passes to Perk under the basket, and he finishes with the loud two-hand slam (2-0 11:42) ... not a bad way to start the game.

However, Billups answers with the deep three-pointer right over the outstretched hand of Rondo (hmm, that might not help Rajon's confidence after hearing everyone say that Chauncey got the better of him in Boston) ... At the other end, Pierce winds up being double-teamed in the paint, so he gives the ball to Kendrick and he hits the hook shot over McDyess (4-3 10:48).

Billups then misses the shot, and Perk gets the rebound; he passes to Allen, who dribbles up the floor, then gives it back to Perk who scores once again over McDyess (6-3 10:23); Heinsohn: "After the first minute of this game, he's liable to make the All-Star team!"

The Pistons are starting this game flat, as Sheed misses the outside shot, and Ray collects the loose rebound. He takes it back the other way, then passes to Pierce in the paint; he gives the pumpfake to get McDyess in the air, and absorbs the contact while attempting the shot ... That's Antonio's second foul already (Jason "Smooth Like a" Maxiell comes in to replace him), as Paul heads to the line and makes both free throws (8-3 9:44).

At the other end, Hamilton makes a nice pass inside to Maxiell, who's slapped across the hands by Garnett while taking the shot; that puts him at the line with 9:32 remaining, but he proceeds to miss both foul shots (cue the Nelson Muntz "ha HA!" WAV file).

KG grabs the rebound, as the C's have a chance to extend their lead; however, Kevin misses the outside shot and Maxiell comes away with the rebound. He quickly gets the ball upcourt to Hamilton, who pulls up over Allen but backrims the shot (the Pistons are now just 1-for-4 from the field) and Pierce corrals the rebound.

We head back the other way, as Paul makes the outlet pass to Ray with Hamilton covering him. Wallace and Billups both come over to try and stop him, but that just leaves Rajon wide open for the 15-footer (10-3 9:00)!

The one-handed dunk by Maxiell gets Detroit within five (and wakes the crowd up a little bit), then Garnett tries to drive down the lane but runs right into the chest of Maxiell and is called for the offensive foul; that is now Kevin's second foul (oopsie), so he heads to the bench with 7:34 on the clock, while Parker Posey is subbed in.

Meanwhile, Detroit regains possession, as Billups tries to work the baseline against Rajon and is able to draw the foul (he also draws blood above Rondo's left eye, but no one seems to notice as he stays in the game). It's a non-shooting foul, so Prince inbounds the ball to Maxiell, who quickly gives it back to Tayshaun, and he passes to Hamilton at the top of the key; Allen is a little late getting to him, so Perk is forced to come over and cover Rip, but that just gives him an open target underneath the basket in Maxiell who finishes with the strong two-hand slam (10-7 7:19).

The crowd again tries to make some noise, and they get even louder as Allen is called for the offensive foul as he pushed off Hamilton while trying to make a move to the basket. That gives Detroit back possession, as the Celtics' trainer is finally out to bandage up Rajon's eye and stop the blood flow ... He stays in the game, but what cannot be stopped is this newfound momentum for the Pistons, as Prince buries the jumpshot to get his team within one (10-9 5:48).

Glenn Rivers M.D. calls for time, and when play resumes Pierce pulls up from the free-throw line and misses the shot over Prince, but Perkins is able to grab the offensive board (his fourth rebound already). He finds Rondo under the basket, who goes up for the layup attempt but it rims out (!) and Sheed is able to control the carom.

He gets he ball up ahead to Billups, who ends up with Ray Allen covering him off the switch ... Sensing a mismatch, Chauncey gets the ball to Hamilton (defended by Rajon) and he scores easily off the turnaround "jay" (10-11 5:06).

This isn't looking so good, as Rondo goes in for another layup attempt but misses again (oy) and the loose rebound is tipped out to Hamilton. He pushes it up the floor to start the Pistons fast break, and sends the alleyoop pass over to Prince for the acrobatic two-hand slam (10-13 4:36); geez, that really gets the crowd on its feet ...

Rajon doesn't help matters, as he backrims the 15-foot jumpshot (hope he's not getting too rattled by this hostile atmosphere) and Wallace pulls down the rebound. Heinsohn laments that "the offense has gone stagnant since the big guy [i.e. Garnett] went to the bench", but further damage is avoided as the Celts play some solid defense and force Hamilton to hoist up an airball as the shot clock expires.

That's a 24-second violation, so Boston regains possession while Tony comes into the game to take over for Rondo at the point-guard position ... However, he can't solve the Celts' sudden offensive woes, as Posey comes up short on the outside shot (that's nine straight misses for Boston!) and Prince comes away with the rebound. He takes it upcourt himself, then passes inside to Rasheed, who backs down Perk before turning around and knocking down the little floater in the lane (10-15 2:59).

Yup, the Celts are definitely having their problems, as Pierce misses the fallawya jumpshot and Prince secures the rebound. He gives it to Billups, who slowly brings the ball up the floor before passing back inside to Wallace; he now has Posey on him, so he backs him down and scores again with the very same play as before (10-17 2:14)!

At the other end, it's Perkins' turn to miss, as he throws up a brick over Maxiell (man, these guys are ice-cold) and Sheed hauls down another rebound. The Pistons have a chance to build their lead further, and that's just what they do as Wallace takes the pass from Tayshaun behind the three-point line and he buries it (10-20 1:28); ugh.

Now Hugh Laurie comes into the game (replacing Ray) to try and give the C's some scoring punch ... Tony front-rims the jumper (that's twelve straight misses now!) but the loose rebound is tipped out to House, and he quickly gets the ball back to Allen who pulls up over Maxiell and - finally - buries the shot (12-20 1:01).

However, Maxiell answers with a jumper of his own, then Allen misses (oh well, so much for building some momentum) and Prince grabs the rebound. He gives it to Billups, as there's just about 24 seconds left in the quarter, so Detroit can hold for the final shot ... Chauncey dribbles around a bit before finally driving to the basket against Tony, but House reaches in and knocks the ball out of bounds with 2.5 seconds on the clock.

Maxiell inbounds to Prince, and he shoots up an airball as the buzzer goes off ... No, scratch that, the officials actually put 1.1 seconds back on the clock (not sure where that number came from). Of course, in the end it doesn't matter, as Perkins forces up a shot from halfcourt that doesn't even come close to the rim, so the deficit remains at ten (12-22) at the end of one.

And what an ugly first quarter it was, as the Celts shot just 26 percent from the floor (5-19 FG) while the Pistons were up around 56 percent (10-18 FG) ... If that continues, then we are going to be in for a loooong night.

SECOND QUARTER

Rivers leaves Garnett on the bench to start the second quarter, but tries to counter his absence with a double serving of beef, as Glen "Macrosomia" Davis and Scotty 2 Hotty are on the floor (alongside Pierce, House, and Tony Allen) ... Fat lotta good that does us, since Maxiell takes it strong to the basket on the very first play and draws the foul on Pollard. That earns him a trip to the line, where he makes both free throws (12-24 11:48).

House answers by hitting the pullup jumper over Prince (which is difficult for a little guy like Eddie because of Tayshaun's freakish wingspan), then Rodney "I Heart" Stuckey-bee goes in for the layup and comes up short; he gets his own rebound, but his putback attempt is blocked from Pollard (there you go, use that beef!).

Tony grabs the loose ball and pushes it up the floor, but Maxiell slaps it away from behind (aw nuts) for the turnover ... Now Stuckey has the ball again, and he passes inside to Arron Aff-LOL-o, but Tony is able to reject his layup attempt and the ball goes off Arron's knee and out of bounds!

The Celts are certainly getting plenty of opportunities to put a dent in this deficit ... They make this latest one count, as Pierce drives to the basket and is hacked by Stuckey while scoring the basket; he adds the free throw to complete the three-point play and get Detroit's lead into single digits (17-24 10:45).

Maxiell answers with the turnaround jumper over Pollard (he now has ten points on 4-for-4 shooting), then House misses the outside shot and McDyess (back into the game) hauls down the rebound; he gets the ball upcourt to Prince, who passes to Maxiell and he pulls up over "Big Baby" and buries it (17-28 10:00).

This is not good, as Pierce is charged with an offensive foul for setting the screen on Stuckey ... That gives Detroit back possession with 9:46 on the clock, as Garnett makes his return to the game to replace Pollard.

Meanwhile, McDyess tries to get the ball to Afflalo, but Tony steps in for the steal and takes it coast to coast for the layup (19-28 9:29); Heinsohn: "That's why Tony's in there, for aggressive defense!"

Afflalo then misses the 15-footer, and Pierce pulls down the rebound; he takes it upcourt himself, and ends up drawing the foul on Jarvis "Purple" Hayes  ... That puts Paul back at the line, and he makes both free throws (21-28 8:50).

Stuckey answers with the deep jumper over House, then Pierce slices down the lane and comes up short on the layup attempt, but Davis secures the offensive board over McDyess and scores on the putback (23-30 8:07).

A basket by House cuts the deficit to five with 7:35 to go in the quarter; Hamilton then tries to give the pumpfake with Tony Allen covering him, but Tony doesn't fall for it (he's gotten wise to their tricks) and Rip ends up hoisting an awkward shot that misses badly.

Pierce grabs the rebound and makes a fullcourt pass to Garnett hustling up the floor; he goes in for the dunk but Maxiell delivers the hard foul from behind ... KG has a few words for Jason after the fact, and - wiley veteran that he is - is able to goad him into firing back. Sure enough, the refs catch Maxiell flapping his gums and trying to get into Kevin's face, so they whistle him for the technical (heh).

That puts Garnett at the line with 7:07 remaining, as he makes the free throw for the tech. He then gets two more opportunities from the original foul call ... but misses both of them (dammit!).

Pistons catch a break there, but can't capitalize as Hamilton misses the jumper and Tony comes away with the rebound. He takes it up the floor and passes inside to KG, who tries to make a move around McDyess but loses the handle on the ball. Luckily, House is able to pick it up, but a lot a time has passed and he has to force up a three-point attempt to beat the shot clock.

He front-rims it, as Hayes grabs the rebound and we head back the other way ... He passes to Billups, who finds Hamilton in the corner. He's covered by Ray, but just blows right past him and  takes it in for the layup (26-32 6:06).

KG then draws the foul on McDyess (a call which the crowd does not like); that's his third, so Rasheed comes back into the game to replace him while Kevin makes both of his free throws to get his team back within four (28-32 5:50).

It looks like the Celts are preparing to make a run, as Hayes misses the three-point attempt, but the loose rebound bounces right back out to him and the Pistons get a fresh 24 seconds (dammit!); Jarvis swings the ball around to Hamilton, who passes inside to Wallace with Davis guarding him. He tries to back him down and goes for the hook shot, but "Big Baby" gets a piece of it and House recovers the loose ball!

The C's have a chance to inch their way closer, as Eddie passes inside to Garnett, but he has his shot attempt rejected from behind by Maxiell (!); fortunately, the ball finds its way right to Ray Allen standing behind the three-point line, and he buries the shot (31-32 5:16)!

Hayes and Davis trade baskets, then Billups is fouled by "Big Baby" taking it to the basket with 3:54 left in the half ... At this point, Doc decides that some massive substitutions are in order, as he gets three of his starters - Perkins, Pierce, and Rondo - back on the floor (in place of Davis, Tony Allen, and House).

Meanwhile, Chauncey steps to the line and makes both free throws to put Detroit back up by three points. At the other end, Ray makes the slick over-the-shoulder pass inside to Perkins who is covered by "Pasta Primo-Vera" Brezec (just into the game), but Kendrick takes a couple of extra steps trying to work his way around Detroit's big man, and is called for travelling.

The Pistons regain possession, but Hayes misses the fallaway jumper over Perkins, and Pierce is able to grab the rebound away from the bigger Brezec; he proceeds to make the outlet pass to Ray Allen for the three-point shot, but it's wide of the mark.

However, Rondo dives to the floor for the loose rebound, and his hustle pays off as Billups is called for the foul trying to get the ball away from him ... Detroit is now over the limit, so Rajon steps to the line with 3:12 remaining; he makes the first free throw, but misses the second.

Now, it appears that KG is able to grab the offensive rebound ... however, Brezec hits the deck and the refs fall for it, calling Kevin for the foul!

Aw man, that's three fouls now on Garnett, so "Big Baby" has to come back in at the 3:10 mark to replace him (as a disturbing silence has fallen over Tommy Heinsohn) ... Meanwhile, the Pistons have the ball, as Billups is double-teamed in the paint so he finds Prince wide open for the three-pointer (34-39 2:20)!

Davis then has his layup attempt rejected by Wallace, but Rondo recovers the loose ball and gets it to Pierce, who finds Ray in the corner and he buries a trey of his own as the shot clock expires (37-39 1:51); sweet.

Billups tries to answer with a tough shot in the lane, but misses badly and "Big Baby" comes away with the rebound. He gives the ball to Rondo, who takes it back the other way before passing back to a hustling Davis who drives to the basket ... but Rasheed is there once again with another block!

Luckily, Perk winds up with the loose ball and tries to score on the layup, but he still finds a way to miss that shot (yikes) ... He gets his own rebound, however, and tries once again and this time is able to draw the foul on Brezec. That puts him at the line, where he makes one-of-two free throws (38-39 1:06).

Rasheed scores over Davis to put his team back up three, but Pierce quickly erases that from existence by pulling up over Billups and knocking down the trey (41-all :38.8)!

Wallace tries to answer and clanks the three-point attempt, but Hamilton is able to grab the offensive board. Ray Allen actually knocks the ball out of his hands before he can score on the putback, but Rip is able to recover and does indeed score to put Detroit back ahead (41-43 :28.5).

Doc calls for a 20-second timeout, and when play resumes Posey tries for the long-ball but can't find the bottom of the net ... Rasheed gets the rebound, but  then just kind of stands there holding the ball with three seconds still on the clock. That was kinda dumb, as - by the time he passes to Billups - they can't get a shot off, leaving the score 41 to 43 at halftime.

While the Celts shot fairly better in the second quarter (9-21 FG), all you really need to know about that first half can be summed up with the following: Kevin Garnett played just 11 minutes (and scored three points), yet the Celts are still only down two. Go figure, huh?

THIRD QUARTER

Doc has his full complement of starters on the floor to start the second half (and I'm sure the Pistons will be attacking Garnett at every opportunity to draw that fourth foul) ... Meanwhile, Pierce misses the three-point attempt, but Rondo (to save the loose rebound from going out of bounds) jumps in and throws the ball off Rasheed's knee. Aw, if only he had aimed a little higher ;)

Anwyay, that gives Boston back possession, and Perkins makes the nice pass inside to Pierce who draws the foul on Prince. That puts Paul at the line, and he makes both free throws to tie the game (43-all 11:12).

At the other end, Sheed is called for the offensive foul trying to set the pick on Rondo (a call which - surprise! - Wallace does not agree with) ... That gives Boston back possession with a chance to take the lead, but Pierce bricks the three-point attempt and Hamilton pulls down the rebound. He takes it back the other way, then finds the the trailer Billups who is able to knock down the trey (43-46 10:43).

However, on his way back up the floor, Chauncey is whistled for a technical foul (he was gesturing to the officials about something or other, which is never a wise move). Allen makes the free throw as it's still Celtics' ball, but KG misses the outside jumpshot (he's just 0-for-3 from the floor tonight) and McDyess clears away the rebound.

He gets the ball to Billups, who dribbles upcourt, then passes to Hamilton. He's covered nicely by Ray, so he gets the ball to Prince, and he swings it around to Rasheed about two feet behind the three-point line ... but he decides to shoot it anyway and - of course - hits nothing but net (44-49 10:05); Detroit is now 5-of-10 from behind the arc!

At the other end, KG uses the pumpfake to try and draw the foul on Rasheed; he gets hit, but the whistles remain, so he winds up taking an off-balance shot that misses badly. However, Ray is in perfect position for the offensive board and scores on the layup (46-49 9:38).

Billups is then able to elude Rondo (thanks to a pick from McDyess) and pulls up for the jumper ... Rajon is able to get back on him, but only manages to foul him from behind, sending Chauncey to the line where he makes both free throws (46-52 9:21); sigh.

Rondo tries to give his adversary a taste of his own medicine, as he uses his quickness to draw the foul on Billups. Now it's his turn to take a spot at the charity stripe, but he ends up missing both free throws (d'oh!) ... The Celtics have now missed six free throws (13-19 FT), almost as many as the Pistons have attempted (5-7 FT)!

It's still a six-point deficit with 8:29 remaining, when Ray Allen is whistled for the foul (his third) trying to guard McDyess. It's a non-shooting foul, so Prince inbounds to Billups, who tries for the three-pointer with Rondo in his face, but Rajon is able to get a piece of that shot!

Perk collects the loose ball and gets it up ahead to Rondo, where he passes inside to Ray; Allen tries to make a move around Hamilton to get to the basket, but the refs can't have that as they call him for the offensive foul! Aw man, what a bogus call, especially since it now gives Ray a total of four fouls.

Posey comes back in at the 8:10 mark to replace him, while Pistons have a chance to extend their lead ... However, Prince misses the outside shot, and Pierce grabs the rebound. He immediately sends the pass up to Garnett (who has a step on Rasheed) and he finishes with the layup (48-52 7:51).

Nice assist by Pierce ... but not as nice as the no-look dish he sends to Posey behind the three-point line, where he buries the shot to get the C's within one (51-52 7:12)! Rasheed then misses the three-point attempt of his own, and Posey hauls down the rebound; he passes to Rondo, who takes it up the floor, then finds KG in the paint covered by Wallace. Undeterred, Kevin pulls up and buries the shot to give Boston the lead (53-52 6:10)!

Now Detroit is forced to call a timeout, but when play resumes Sheed answers with the basket to put the Pistons back ahead; at the other end, Pierce is stripped by Billups, and Hamilton collects the loose ball. He takes it back the other way, and gives it back to Chauncey behind the three-point line where he knocks it down (53-57 4:56); ouch.

The crowd has become re-energized, as Detroit plays some tough defense and KG is forced to take an awkward jumper to beat the shot clock ... That barely hits the rim, as Wallace gets the rebound and gives it to Billups. He winds up getting tripped up by Posey (his third foul), so Prince inbounds to Billups and he gives it back to Tayshaun for the outside shot; that's wide of the mark, and Garnett comes away with the rebound.

Now we head back the other way, as Posey makes a strong move to the basket, but knocks down McDyess and a LATE whistle signals his fourth foul of the night ... Tony comes back into the game to replace him, while Detroit regains possession and McDyess tries for the pullup jumper over Perkins. That comes up short, and Rondo secures the rebound (his fourth); he takes it up the floor, then gets the ball into Tony's hands. He passes to KG, who works the baseline around Rasheed and then goes up and under for the layup (55-57 3:19).

Billups gives the Celts a chance to get even closer, as he steps out of bounds trying to make a move around Allen ... That gives Boston back possession, and KG scores on the fallaway jumper over McDyess (57-all 2:36).

! Hayes and Tony trade baskets, then Hamilton gets tripped up by Tony, so it's back to the line where he makes both free throws (59-61 1:26).

Two foul shots from Garnett with 1:10 remaining in the quarter (after McDyess picked up his fourth foul trying to guard him) ties the score yet again. The Celts then attempt to clamp down on defense, but Perkins winds up taking an elbow to the midsection trying to keep up with Billups ... Somehow, the referees interpret this as a blocking foul on Kendrick (whu?!?), which sends Doc Rivers over the edge.

His arguments earn him nothing but a technical foul (I don't blame ya Doc!), so Chauncey steps to the line and makes one free throw, then readies himself for two more - as Boston is now over the limit - and sinks both of those as well (61-64 :50.8).

Gadzooks, that kind of bad officiating will leave a bad taste in your mouth ... Pierce and McDyess trade baskets in the closing moments, as the Celts are down just three (63-66) heading into the final quarter.

FOURTH QUARTER

Davis, Pollard, House, Pierce, and Tony Allen start the fourth ... However, it's Perkins sitting on the bench who gets things started, as right off the bat the refs whistle him for a technical call (he's still arguing about the shenanigans that went on at the end of the third).

Hamilton makes the free throw to extend Detroit's lead to four, but it's still Celtics possession, and Allen makes the nice pass inside to "Big Baby" for the layup (65-67 11:36).

Maxiell then misses the turnaround jumpshot over Davis, and Pollard grabs the rebound; he passes to House, who dribbles up the floor, then gives the ball up to Allen. He explodes to the basket and throws up a crazy-looking layup that barely finds the rim ... but Pollard appears out of nowhere and is able to tip it in (67-all 10:54)!

A basket by Stuckey breaks the tie, then he gets the steal on House and sends a fullcourt pass up to Hayes, who finds Hamilton wide open behind the three-point line; his shot misses, but Maxiell grabs the rebound and is fouled by Eddie trying to score on the putback. He makes one-of-two from the line to get the Pistons back up by three (67-70 9:15).

It's still a three-point game when KG returns to the floor at the 9:05 mark (to a chorus of boos) in place of Pollard ... Meanwhile, Pierce drives to the basket and is surrounded by three defenders, so he makes the excellent wrap-around pass inside to Davis, who is hacked by Maxiell. That sends "Big Baby" to the line, where he makes both foul shots (69-70 8:57).

Two free throws by Stuckey puts the deficit back at three, then Ray is double-teamed and almost throws the ball away, but Pierce is able to recover (although the Detroit crowd would have you believe that he committed a halfcourt violation). He takes it down the lane and pulls up over Prince for the basket, plus he draws the foul, and makes the free throw to complete the three-point play (72-all 7:37)!

The fans are livid now (tough), while Rasheed misses the fallaway jumper over Davis and Pierce comes down with the rebound. He takes it upcourt himself, then passes inside to "Big Baby", who goes up with the shot - with Wallace all over him - but still manages to score the basket (74-72 7:14)!

Sheed answers with the outside shot (his foot was on the three-point line), then House makes the sweet dish inside to Garnett ... Wallace comes in from behind to try and block the shot, but gets a piece of his arm as well, so the refs whistle him for the foul (which Wallace still can't believe). That puts KG at the line for two free throws to give Boston back the lead (76-74 6:41).

Prince then misses the three-point attempt, but Billups grabs the offensive rebound and heads back out to reset the offense ... However, he (seemingly) changes his mind and decides the it would be better to jack up a quick three-ball instead. That proves to be unwise, as it misses the mark and Pierce comes away with the rebound.

He takes it back the other way, and finds Garnett underneath the basket, where he makes the touch pass to "Big Baby" for the layup; not only that, but he's also fouled by Prince, and makes the free throw to complete the three-point play (79-74 5:54)! Davis is heating up now, with 13 points (5-7 FG).

At the other end, Ray picks up his fifth foul trying to guard Billups (even though Chauncey once again threw an elbow into his defender, but I guess that doesn't count as a foul here in good ol' Detroit) ... Boston is not yet over the limit, so Prince inbounds to Billups, and he finds Hamilton for the pullup "jay" over House (79-76 5:37).

Pierce then drives on Pierce along the baseline, but runs right into Maxiell and the refs call him for the offensive foul (damnation!). Detroit regains possession, as Hamilton tries to make the crosscourt pass to Billups, but Paul sees it coming a mile away ... He picks it off, then goes all the way in for the one-handed dunk (81-76 4:57).

Rasheed tries to answer and misses the shot, but Maxiell pulls down the offensive rebound and kicks it out to Billups; he tries to pass inside to Hamilton (who's covered by House), and Rip just swings his elbow out to shuck off Eddie for the obvious offensive foul ... obvious to anyone who's not a part of tonight's officiating crew, that is, as they call House for the foul!

Unbelievable, as Hamilton steps to the line and misses the first free throw (Heinsohn: "That's justice!") but makes the second (81-77 4:28).

KG then tries to make a move around Wallace, but he shuffles his feet and is called for travelling (Boston's eighth turnover). Detroit regains possession, and Billups drives down the lane against Ray (who's gotta be careful) but the refs blow the late whistle as Pierce was reaching in for the steal.

That puts Chauncey at the line with 3:57 remaining in the game (Gorman: "Arguably the best free-throw shooter in the league ... "), where he rims out the first free throw (Heinsohn: "Ah, you got your graduate degree from Salem University! Witchcraft 101!") and then backrims the second (Gorman: "I want a Tommy Point for that!")

Rondo (back into the game for House) comes away with the loose rebound, as the Celts have a chance to put the pressure on the Pistons a bit here in the closing moments ... Pierce misses the fallaway jumper over Prince, however, and Billups controls the rebound. He motors up the floor, then passes to Rasheed (who's being double-teamed by Davis and Ray Allen) but takes the shot anyway (dumbass).

That misses, but Prince tips the loose rebound out to Hamilton who's wide open from 18 feet away; luckily, his shot rims out, and KG grabs the carom. He passes upcourt to Rondo, who finds Ray along the baseline. He can't get anywhere, so he gives the ball to Garnett, and he tries the short jumper that winds up being an airball (!).

The Pistons get another opportunity, as Prince spins around Rondo to get into the paint. That sends three Celtics over to try and prevent the layup, so Tayshaun has his choice of perimeter players to pick from (Wallace, Billups, and Hamilton are now all open behind the three-point line) ... He goes with Rip, and that turns out to be a good call as he nails the trey (81-80 2:38).

After a Boston timeout, Tony Allen comes into the game to replace Rondo ... Billups is all over Tony trying to force a turnover, but he's able to make the pass to Garnett, and he gets the ball to Pierce at the top of the key. He then lobs a pass inside to "Big Baby", who goes up over Rasheed for the layup PLUS the foul! Now that's what I'm talking about; throw in the free throw and it's a four-point Celtics advantage (84-80 2:18).

The crowd seems stunned right now, as Billups misses the shot and Hamilton fouls Tony going for the rebound; Detroit is now over the limit, so Allen heads to the line and proceeds to make both foul shots (86-80 2:07).

However, we can't chalk this up as another victory just yet, as McDyess buries the 18-footer, then Tony tries to drive against Billups but loses control of the ball (eek). Prince picks it up and heads back the other way, as he finds Hamilton along  the baseline and he scores the runner over Ray (86-84 1:25).

Just like that, the crowd has caught their second wind ... Doc calls for time, and when play resumes Pierce inbounds to Tony. He's being smothered by Billups, and is able to knock the ball out of his hands and out of bounds with 17 seconds left on the shot clock.

During the stoppage of play, Rondo comes back in for Tony, while Pierce drives to the basket and misses the tough shot ... but never fear, as Davis goes up strong between two Pistons players for the offensive rebound! He kicks it back out to Pierce, who dribbles out to eat some more time off the clock.

With a minute left in the game, Garnett comes out and sets the screen on Prince, leaving Paul with an opening to the basket; the rest of the defense steps up to try and stop his forward momentum, so he passes inside to "Big Baby" who's hacked by McDyess while scoring the layup!

Davis lands hard on the floor, and winds up clutching his right knee (uh oh) ... Thankfully, he appears to be okay, and steps to the line with 56.9 seconds on the clock and a chance for the three-point play.

However, he misses the free throw (ooooh), and Rasheed comes away with the rebound ... The Pistons still have time to make something happen (a four-point deficit is not insurmountable with this much time left), as Billups blows past Ray Allen and runs right into Davis.

"Big Baby" hits the deck, but his attempts to draw the charge call go unrewarded, as the refs whistle him for the foul (Heinsohn: "That's an out-and-out charge, but they're not gonna call it here with this crowd!"). That puts Chauncey at the line with 47.5 seconds left; he makes the first free throw, and misses the second (yes!), but gets his own rebound (no!).

Now the Pistons have a fresh 24 seconds ... but Billups doesn't even take half that amount of time before he chucks a three-pointer from about two feet behind the line (with Pierce right in his face even). All of those factors combine for a complete airball (wasn't even close) that KG lets bounce harmlessly out of bounds with 32.1 seconds remaining.

Garnett inbounds to Pierce (Detroit doesn't have to foul yet), and Paul slowly brings it up the floor with Hamilton on him like glue ... Rasheed eventually comes over for the double-team, as Pierce takes it to the basket, but - seeing McDyess focusing on him rather than on his man - he slides a pass inside to "Big Baby" and he finishes with the layup (90-85 :08.5)! Oh man, I cannot BELIEVE that the mighty defensive-minded Detroit Pistons fell for that play again!

The air has been completely let out of this building, as the Pistons call for time (a mere formality now) while the Celtics bench welcomes Glen Davis like a conquering hero ... As "Big Baby" takes a seat, the camera catches Garnett coming over and cupping his hands around his groin region (I'm guessing that's a pantomime to tell Glen that he has balls the size of grapefruits to be playing with that much confidence as a mere rookie).

And why not? After all, that gives Davis 16 points (on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting) in the fourth quarter; how many rookies do you think can do that?

Anyway, enough frivolity, we have a game to finish ... Detroit needs to score a quick basket if they want any hope of trying to come away with the victory, so Prince goes for the three-point attempt, but it's short of the mark and McDyess fouls Tony Allen going for the rebound (whee!).

He makes both of his free throws with 2.7 seconds left, and the Pistons don't even bother to try and get a shot off, as they head to the locker room with tails tucked firmly between their legs while the Celts celebrate a well-deserved 92-to-85 victory.

FINAL SCORE: Boston 92, Detroit 85

GAME RATING: 17 (Killer)

TONIGHT'S C.O.G. (CELT OF THE GAME): Glen Davis 

BOSTON TOP PERFORMERS:

  • Davis: 23 MIN, 20 PTS (8-10 FG, 4-5 FT), 4 REB (3 OFF)
  • Pierce: 46 MIN, 19 PTS (5-16 FG, 1-6 3PTers, 8-8 FT), 9 REB, 7 AST
  • Garnett: 32 MIN, 15 PTS (4-11 FG), 5 REB 

DETROIT TOP PERFORMERS:

  • Hamilton: 39 MIN, 18 PTS (6-16 FG), 8 AST
  • Billups: 40 MIN, 17 PTS (4-12 FG), 6 AST, 4 REB
  • Wallace: 36 MIN, 16 PTS (7-16 FG), 8 REB, 4 BLK

TOMMY QUOTES

  • "Regardless of what happens in this game, the Celtics have proved to the Pistons here in Detroit ... that they're a terrific basketball team and are capable of winning. Now, the Pistons I don't think are gonna get much better. I think the Celtics are gonna get a LOT better before the season is out!"

POSTGAME NOTES

  • The Celtics held Detroit to just 39 percent shooting from the floor (31-79 FG).
  • Boston's bench came through with a whopping 39 points tonight (you'll remember that they managed only five points - all by House - in their last meeting against Detroit).
  • The Celtics have now won nine straight road games (their longest streak since 1982!).
  • No surprise that Glen Davis was tonight's Tommy Award winner.
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