The Celtics narrowly avoided becoming the team that the Detroit Pistons would snap their historic losing streak against, in an overtime 128-122 victory Thursday night at TD Garden, which has now been extended to 28 straight games.
Kristaps Porzingis led the way for Boston with 35 points and eight rebounds while shooting 13-of-21 from the field, to go along with eight rebounds and five blocks. Jayson Tatum also had a well rounded scoring game with 31 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists.
It is possible that Tatum's previously sprained ankle played a factor in his relatively inefficient scoring 11-of-31 night.
"The ankle is whatever," Tatum said in his postgame comments. "It's still a little swollen but I'm able to play. I'm questionable again for tomorrow."
Jaylen Brown missed Thursday night's contest with a lower back contusion after a collision with LeBron James during the Celtics' Christmas Day 126-116 win against the Lakers.
Boston found themselves in quite a hole earlier in the game, as they were down by as many as 21 points and trailed 66-47 at halftime. The Celtics went 4-of-24 from three on their first 28 attempts and did not really attack much in the first half. On the other hand, the Pistons were getting almost whatever they wanted with many easy looks at the rim, resulting in 34 points in the paint in the first 24 minutes. That number shrunk down to 20 points in the point in the final two quarters, however.
After a poor first half, the Celtics got back into the game with a lot more aggressive drives to the hoop instead of settling for 3-pointers. Boston ended up with 66 points in the paint by the end of the game.
Boston used a 31-11 run to start the third quarter to finally tie it up (82-82) with a minute to go in the period, limiting the Pistons to a total of 16 points.
Trailing 100-96 with 4:41 left to play, the Celtics went on 10-0 spurt to take a six point lead, before the Pistons responded with a four-point play and a Jaden Ivey (22 points, 10 rebounds) 3-pointer to even it at 106 apiece. Detroit also took advantage of 31 second chance points on 19 offensive rebounds to keep them in the game during the second half.
Derrick White was another huge reason for the Celtics turnaround as well, after making a shoe change, White scored 10 of his 23 points (8-of-10) in the extra session. Before switching sneakers at the break, White had two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
"I just laughed with him and we both agreed it was probably the worst half of his career," Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla said about his halftime talk with White.
Cade Cunningham kept up his hot streak for the Pistons in the overtime thriller. The 22-year-old racked up 31 points, six rebounds, nine rebounds, three steals, two blocks, and six turnovers 12-of-22 from the floor, including 4-of-6 shooting from deep.
Bojan Bogdanovic added 17 points, 12 rebounds, while Jalen Duren registered 15 points and 14 rebounds for Detroit -- who dropped to 2-29 on the season.
"I think everybody comes into a game like this and is just like 'oh the Celtics are playing the Pistons so they should win the game'... I told the guys before shootaround you can’t have any expectations on how you think this game is gonna go." Mazzulla said of the expectations heading into this game. "I'm not worried about what happened in the first half. That's going to happen from time to time. I'm more worried about how we respond to it, so it says more about our guys how we responded to the second half than how it went in the first half."
The Celtics (24-6) will look to defend their undefeated home record (15-0) on a second half of a back-to-back Friday night against the Toronto Raptors (12-18) at 7:30 pm EST.
Boston hit 48.5% of their field goals, including 11-of-39 (28.2%) from long distance, while the Pistons were 47.5% from the floor and 14-of-43 (32.6%) from 3-point range. The Celtics were out-rebounded 57-43, but won the points in the paint battle 66-54. Detroit handed out 27 assists (19 turnovers) on 48 baskets and the C's had 25 dimes (12 turnovers) on 48 made shots.
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images