Sunday, February 26, 2017

Celtics 104 - Pistons 98: Jaylen Brown lifts C's, snap two-game skid

It was as ugly of a win as one could imagine in the NBA on 'Rip' Hamilton night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. But the Celtics held on long enough to beat the Pistons despite blowing another double-digit lead, Boston snapped a two-game losing streak in a 104-98 victory over Detroit.

Jaylen Brown hit a baseline 3-pointer with 37.6 seconds left that turned out to be the winning shot. The rookie finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals to go along with the biggest made 3-pointer of his young career.
"I was just waiting in the corner," Brown said. "I told myself, if he passes, I'm going to shoot it."
Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 33 points, Jae Crowder added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Marcus Smart also totaled 14 points and 5 rebounds while Terry Rozier chipped in 13 points, including going 3-of-4 from behind the arc for Boston, who are now 38-21 on the season.

For the Pistons, it was Celtics killer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who lead five players scoring in double-figures with 18 points, while André Drummond notched a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds. Reggie Jackson also finished with 17 points and added 6 assists. Marcus Morris chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons, who are now 28-31.

The Celtics lead for most of the first half, using an 18-3 run in the second quarter to go up by 12, but were only ahead 54-50 at intermission after a 30-foot buzzer beater by Marcus Morris. Boston was then able to push the deficit to 15 points, the highest of the night, midway through the third quarter before the Pistons made their run.

Both teams continued to commit turnovers for the rest the quarter while the Celtics allowed many second chance opportunities on the glass, they barley held onto a 79-74 advantage heading into the final frame.

The Pistons grabbed a lead and were up 96-95 with just under a minute remaining before Reggie Jackson missed a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game. Boston capitalized on the other end when Al Horford (4 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) found Jaylen Brown in the right-hand corner and the rook hit the 3-ball while getting fouled by Morris.
"We can't put everything on Isaiah, especially when teams know where we're trying to go," said Smart afterwards. "They're going to try everything they can to get the ball out of his hands and make other guys make plays and that's what we did tonight." 
Though Brown missed the free-throw to ice the game, it was Smart who amongst the trees bobbled an offensive board and a loose ball foul was called on Tobias Harris, and Smart put the game out of reach with two made shots from the charity stripe.

Boston shot 40-percent from the floor and turned the ball over 16 times that lead to 12 points for the Pistons, but it was Detroit's free-throw woes that made the difference as they went 16-of-35 (45 percent) from the line.
"Obviously, the free throws were a major issue, but that's not one guy. If you take away Andre, the other guys shot 62.5 percent, and that's not good enough," Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We had five more free throws than they did, even giving three fouls at the end, and we made eight fewer. It's tough to win a game like that."
Outside of turnovers Brad Stevens' has to be happy that his team out-rebounded the Pistons 65-57 and outscored Detroit in the paint 40-28.

The Celtics will head home on Monday to take on the Atlanta Hawks. Tip-off from the TD Garden is at 7:30 PM.

Game Notes:

Durning an emotional halftime ceremony at the Palace, No. 32 was lifted into the rafters as Richard Hamilton got his number retired. Former teammates Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and coaches Larry Brown and Jim Calhoun were in attendance as the former UConn and Pistons star was honored.

"See what Ray Allen does? I'm going to do the same thing for you that I did for Ray Allen," Hamilton recalled Calhoun's message to him in 1996. UConn would go on to win their first NCAA championship in 1999.

Hamilton played nine seasons in Detroit and was also a key member of the 2004 NBA championship team that beat the Lakers in the Finals 4-1.

Joel Pavón

Picture used courtesy of Getty Images

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