Thursday, December 4, 2014

Celtics 109 - Pistons 102 (OT): C's Snap Five Game Skid

Photo: Getty Images
Boston - TD Garden's faithful not only anticipated the return of rookie point guard; Marcus Smart, but they were also expecting their Celtics to get a much needed win as well. After blowing an 11-point lead late in the fourth, the Pistons forced overtime, but it was Jeff Green who kept the C's alive in the extra five minutes to help capture a 109-102 victory over Detroit and snapped a five-game losing streak.

Green lead all scorers with 32 points including going 6-of-10 from behind the arc and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Kelly Olynyk had his best game of the season as he finished with 20 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Jared Sullinger also added 14 points in the Celtics first win in six games.

"I'm excited for the guys that they gutted one out when it kind of teeter-tottered toward not going their way," said C's coach Brad Stevens. "We needed to respond. I'm not going to overreact, though. We've only done it once."

Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 29 points off the bench, Andre Drummond finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in with 15 points in Detroit's 10th consecutive loss, that has them now at 3-16.

In a back and forth first half, the Pistons lead 43-42 at intermission. After poor third quarter shooting by both teams where Boston scored 19 points to Detroit's 15, the Pistons would never lead the rest of the way. The Celtics opened up the fourth with a 10-3 run when Olynyk went off for seven straight points that pushed the lead to 11 with 7:25 left in regulation. Monroe followed that up with nine straight points on his own and with less than a minute to play, the C's were only up, 86-84.

Caron Butler hit a wide open 3-pointer from the left elbow to tie the game at 88. In a last play of the quarter, Jeff Green drove to the hoop only to have his floater blocked by Drummond. Green and Olynyk hit back-to-back 3's as Boston went on a 8-0 run to begin overtime and ended the extra five minutes outscoring the Pistons 21-14 for their first home win since November 7.

Photo: Getty Images
"I don't really believe much in momentum," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "There's a lot of ifs. A lot of ifs. A lot of things that could have happened and didn't."

Don't tell that to second year forward/center Kelly Olynyk, who came up big in the second half and OT for Brad Stevens.

"The dam got hit but didn't break. That's the good thing," said the Canadian center. "We played in that overtime well, got some stops when we needed to and hit some big shots."

The Celtics had lost six in a row at home, and blown double-digit leads in five of those at the Garden. Despite only shooting 39.8 percent from the field and being out-rebounded 55-49. It was the clutch 3-point shots in the fourth and overtime that kept the C's alive in this one, going 13-30 (43.3%) from downtown on the night.

Boston now 5-11 will look to make it two wins in a row, when they welcome Kobe Bryant and the 5-14 Los Angeles Lakers to town on Friday night. The rivals tip-off at 7:30.

Game Notes:

Marcus Smart made his return to the Celtics lineup after missing 10 straight games with a high left ankle sprain. In about five minutes of action the rookie did not score, attempting 3 shots from behind the arc, and dishing out 2 assists.

"I didn't think he looked ready," Stevens said. "Had nothing to do physically; he hasn't practiced. It's kind of tough to just throw him in there. I hadn't even seen him until we got to the gym today."

Boston went 2-8 without Smart, and ironically enough their last home win was the same game where the point guard injured his ankle almost a month ago.

Joel Pavón 

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