Jerami Grant scored 11 fourth-quarter points and 24 for the game. His jumper with 19 seconds remaining proved to be the finishing touch for the Pistons, who ended their eight-game losing streak. Saddiq Bey and Cade Cunningham each added 20, as Detroit shot 53 percent from deep and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds.
Jaylen Brown scored 31 while Al Horford added 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. The Celtics weren’t able to extend their winning streak to 10 games, and they go into all-star break with a 34-26 record.
Although Detroit has the NBA’s worst record, they weren’t chanting “1-2-3-CANCUN” just yet. They played stout defense from the start, and after 12 minutes, trailed 25-23. Saddiq Bey is making a strong case to join the exclusive “Celtic Killers” club (that includes Terrance Ross, Khris Middleton, Thad Young, among others). He scored 21 points in their game on February 4th, 30 when he played in Boston last year, and started the game strong, scoring eight in the first quarter.
Jaylen Brown followed last night’s 12-point first quarter with a 13-point first quarter. Maybe some Celtics had their minds on their upcoming vacations, but Brown – for the second straight night – was out to prove that he deserved to be playing in this weekend’s All-Star Game.
JAYLEN BROWN IS A BAD MAN pic.twitter.com/eJ58Tm1vKX— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 17, 2022
If Jaylen’s past two weeks has been an All-Star snub “revenge tour,” Kelly Olynyk was eyeing his return to Boston as a “revenge game” reunion. He hit two early second quarter threes and added another long jumper. The Pistons had a steady first half scoring output, with no player reaching double digits. For the season, they rank 10th in offensive rebounds and sixth in forcing turnovers — two of the few statistics where they rank in the top half of the league. It kept Detroit in the game, as they forced 10 first-half turnovers and grabbed 10 offensive boards.
One of the primary reasons the Celtics have played so well is because they’re moving the ball. They’re averaging 294 passes per game for the season, but that number balloons to 310 over the past nine games, a figure that would rank fourth in the league. We’re more accustomed to seeing nifty passing sequences like this one:
That Celtics ball movement is different! pic.twitter.com/Zl0sX9aQKz— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 17, 2022
While the Celtics shot an outstanding 56 percent in the first half, they only led 52-48. They appeared to be caught off guard by Detroit’s early physicality. While Jayson Tatum had five first-half turnovers, he had 11 points, 5 assists, and (legally) sent Cory Joseph into the first row on this fast-break finish:
A Cade Cunningham transition three gave Detroit a 53-52 lead, but Jaylen responded with an and-1 layup. Horford hit a turnaround elbow jumper, then Bey drilled a wing three-pointer on the next possession. Detroit wasn’t going down easy, and the Celtics would have to compete for 48 minutes to extend their winning streak. A Jerami Grant three at the 6:29 mark – already their fifth of the quarter – gave the Pistons a 69-64 lead, prompting Ime Udoka to call a timeout.
Jaylen hit a contested step-back 27-footer to beat the shot clock, then finished in traffic over the burly Isaiah Stewart to give Boston a 72-71 lead. With two minutes left in the quarter, Grant Williams converted on a driving lefty layup, but Olynyk answered by scoring on Jaylen in the post. A late Celtic turnover led to an easy Killian Hayes put-back layup, and Detroit was ahead 84-83 going into the final quarter. Boston allowed 36 third-quarter points to the 12-win Pistons.
They went down 92-86 after — guess who — Kelly Olynyk swished another three. But Boston responded with a timely 13-0 run, which included two Grant Williams three-pointers. Horford and Tatum added threes of their own, and Boston led 102-96 with 5:13 remaining.
Jerami Grant kept Detroit in the game by scoring eight straight points, and Saddiq Bey hit an absurd one-legged three to beat the shot clock. A Grant transition layup tied the game at 108 with 1:50 to play. The Pistons then forced a turnover and called a timeout with 1:00 on the clock.
Horford didn’t box out Bey on the ensuing possession, but he made up for it by hitting a corner three with 32 seconds remaining, giving Boston a 111-110 lead. Jerami Grant responded by hitting a hanging turnaround jumper. Jaylen was double-blocked by Cunningham and Stewart as he attacked the rim on the next play.
Derrick White got a timely steal on Detroit’s inbounds pass, but on the final possession, Jayson Tatum couldn’t connect on an 18-foot jumper, and the Celtics lost 112-111.
One bad game certainly doesn’t ruin a month of spirited basketball. The team next plays next Thursday, as they face the Brooklyn Nets in the first of a three-game road trip. Will the newly acquired Ben Simmons play? Will the Celtics begin a new winning streak? Will Marcus Smart and Robert Williams return from injury? We have over a week to mull over these questions.
For more postgame coverage of the Celtics nailbiter against Detroit, tune into the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A. Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Jaylen Brown’s recent stretch of big games.