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Celtics out-performed by Pistons 113-104 as streak dies at 8

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Despite big nights from Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving, Boston can’t put it together on the road.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Smart had his annual “I’m in Detroit” night shooting from the floor, but the Boston Celtics fell on the road to the Detroit Pistons 113-104. The Celtics were on a league-high 8-game winning streak, but that all came apart. Kyrie Irving led Boston with 26 points, and Blake Griffin led all scorers with 27. Andre Drummond punished Boston for 19 points and 20 rebounds. The Celtics continued to be without Al Horford and Guerschon Yabusele.

The defense took a break in the first quarter, leading to a high-scoring affair. Thankfully for Boston, they employ Kyrie Irving who made up for some of their broken offense by being Kyrie Irving. Irving put up 9 points on 50% shooting in the first frame, providing an answer whenever the Pistons tried to expose him on the defensive end. Aron Baynes was also huge in the first, dropping 6 points on perfect shooting.

The first quarter ended with a 33-33 tie. 3 scorers for Detroit had 7 points in the first frame: Reggie Bullock, Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard. Marcus Smart notched 3 early fouls in the first quarter as well.

The second quarter was not particularly enjoyable to watch until Robert Williams III checked in. The Celtics looked like a team that started to feel the wear of trying to extend a winning streak over time, but thankfully for the Celtics, Robert Williams is immune to the concept of time. His energy was an immediate boost for the Celtics on both ends.

Offensively, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown had a tough stint as Stevens left them in for an extended stretch in the second quarter. Kyrie Irving didn’t check back into the game until there was 4:37 left in the first half with the Celtics down by four. As bad as the Celtics played in the first half at times, the Pistons didn’t really punish them at any extended point.

Irving, for whatever time he did have in the second quarter, continued to dominate offensively. He also was a major contributor on the boards. In the first half, he tied Andre Drummond for the most rebounds out of all players with 6. Irving finished with 8 rebounds as did Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum. Unfortunately, the rest of the Celtics looked pretty sluggish on the second night of a back-to-back. The Celtics rode Irving’s offensive burst in the final minute of the quarter to cut a 7-point deficit to just one, trailing 57-56 at the half.

Boston started the 3rd quarter more aggressive than the last, though Detroit started to catch fire in transition after a couple of rough misses on good shots for the Celtics. This stretch included Andre Drummond running the floor, executing a tight crossover with a left-handed finish. It was a rough stretch for Boston. Detroit’s lead ballooned up to 14.

Despite falling behind big time, once again, the Celtics closed out the quarter well behind back-to-back 3-pointers by Marcus Smart, a charge taken by Daniel Theis and a technical foul on Blake Griffin. Instead of entering the 3rd quarter down 14, the Celtics trailed 85-78.

Irving checked back in the game at the 9:42 mark of the 4th quarter, which is much earlier than usual. The way the Celtics were playing, it was needed. Despite all the hard work that Boston put in at the end of the 3rd, they quickly went down by 16 points to open the 4th.

The Celtics didn’t score a field goal in the 4th quarter until Marcus Smart hit a 3 in transition with under 4:29 left in the game. Smart’s aggressive play sparked Boston all night with 3 steals and 21 points, including 5/7 shooting on 3-pointers. Jayson Tatum scored 17 points on the night. Irving had a rough second half compared to the first, missing quite a few of his typical shots at the rim. Detroit closed the game out by making their freethrows.

At the end of the day, the Celtics lost an ugly game on the second night of a back-to-back on the road.

The 18-11 Celtics don’t play again until Wednesday when they’ll host Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns at 7:30PM EST on NBATV.