Caldwell-Pope injured in Pistons' loss to Celtics
Boston — At the end of their three-game road trip, the Pistons are stuck in another run, with more questions than answers. And now they have a big question: Who steps in for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope?
The starting shooting guard, who ranks second in minutes played, suffered a strained right groin in the second quarter after slipping on a wet spot.
Things didn’t get much better after that as the Pistons slipped into a 20-point deficit at halftime and didn’t recover, falling to the Boston Celtics, 102-95, on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Reggie Jackson had 17 points, Andre Drummond 16 points and 13 rebounds and Ersan Ilyasova 16 points for the Pistons (26-24), who split the season series with the Celtics.
The more immediate concern was Caldwell-Pope, who didn’t return to the game and will be examined further on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury.
“He’s got a groin strain; we’ll get an MRI (Thursday) and we’ll be able to tell you better,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He’ll almost certainly be out (Thursday versus the Knicks), but other than that, we don’t know.”
After Caldwell-Pope’s departure, the Celtics finished the half on a 12-2 spurt, pushing their lead to 56-36. Jae Crowder scored six of his 12 points during the run and Isaiah Thomas (17 points, seven assists) had five points, including a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
“We got down 20 at half and it’s going to be hard to erase that deficit,” Jackson said. “This team is definitely the most resilient team I’ve been on and fights and battles. We have to get better at not digging ourselves a hole.”
The Pistons’ defense, which has been shoddy in recent weeks, was a little better, holding the Celtics to 39 percent in the second half, but the deficit — and 16 turnovers — was too much to overcome.
“Our defense was better overall, especially our halfcourt defense, but the turnovers and the missing of open people and our inability to shoot the ball even when we were open — it was a pretty bad offensive night,” Van Gundy said.
“We weren’t ready to play at the beginning. They were right into us and we couldn’t handle their pressure at all.”
In the third quarter, the Celtics (29-22) took their largest lead, 65-41, on a putback by Avery Bradley (15 points), but the Pistons responded with a flurry of 3-pointers, including three straight by Stanley Johnson, Jackson and Ilyasova, cutting the deficit to 15.
Ilyasova and Marcus Morris (15 points) added back-to-back 3-pointers and trimmed the lead to 70-58. The Pistons stayed close, but the Celtics rallied with six straight points to end the quarter and with a 78-60 advantage.
In the fourth, the Pistons had another comeback attempt. Jackson hit a floater and a 3-pointer and Johnson another 3-pointer, plus two free throws from Jackson, as part of a 10-4 spurt to make it a 14-point deficit.
They added another 13-4 run over the next three minutes, with an Ilyasova 3-pointer and four points from Morris, to shrink the lead to single digits, 94-86, with 3:27 remaining. But Thomas, an All-Star selection, had a clutch three-point play with 2:45 left to extend it back to 11.
Aron Baynes was fouled on a pick play and could have trimmed the lead to five, but missed both free throws and the Pistons never got any closer.
“It’s difficult. We have to have better first halves as a team, because it’s killing us. These are NBA teams and you can’t pick and choose what halves or quarters you want to play; you need 48 minutes of basketball,” guard Brandon Jennings said. “The pace was fast tonight. They were just getting easy buckets and they kind of punked us as a team. They were in us and weren’t letting us catch the ball easy.”