'Super night': Pistons surge past Eastern power Celtics
Boston — At some point, it’s not a fluke anymore.
The Pistons may have reached that point, where they are causing more experts to raise eyebrows and start to believe in the resume they’ve built, with road wins over the Warriors, Timberwolves and Thunder. Put the Boston Celtics at the top of the list.
The Pistons played their most complete game of the season, bolstering their standing as one of the contenders in the Eastern Conference — and did it on the road, in somewhat convincing fashion. With a late surge in the final six minutes, the Pistons toppled the Celtics, 118-108, before a sellout crowd of 18,624 on Monday night at TD Garden. It’s just the second loss at home for the Celtics, who have the best record in the NBA.
“They’re really happy; we know we beat a really, really good team,” coach Stan Van Gundy said outside a jubilant locker room. “We beat a team on their home court who was 18-3. It was just a really good win.
“From an offensive standpoint, that’s the best we’ve played all year. That’s the best defensive team in the league and we were able to consistently get good shots.”
The Pistons (13-6) were consistent on offense and shot 52 percent from the field, including 44 percent on 3-pointers. Tobias Harris finished with 31 points, sniping at 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Andre Drummond was a menace all over the court, with 26 points, a season-high 22 rebounds, six assists and four steals. Reggie Jackson added 20 points and seven assists. The trio combined to go 28-of-38 from the field.
“Tonight was just a super night overall for all of us. For me, just being a hometown game for me and having a lot of family and friends here and (the Celtics) being No. 1, it picked up everybody’s intensity,” said Drummond, who was 6-of-8 from the free-throw line. “We really wanted to beat these guys. I gave it my best shot and we came out with a win.”
In addition to the offense, the Pistons took care of the ball, committing only eight turnovers, while forcing the Celtics into 17. Avery Bradley, in his first game at Boston since the Celtics traded him in July, had a happy return, with 13 points and five assists, and added some superb defense on Kyrie Irving (18 points and nine assists).
Though the Celtics had similar shooting numbers, keeping Irving in check and allowing only 61 points from Boston’s starting lineup.
“Most importantly, the way we played tonight, we were able to move the ball around on the offensive end and get consistent stops — that’s what kind of team we need to be: Have a guy going at any time, on any given night,” Bradley said. “We have to continue to move the ball and play free and play fun. It’s going to be hard for teams to beat us if we’re playing that way.”
The Pistons squandered the double-digit lead they built in the first half and the Celtics led by as many as four, but the Pistons bounced back, as they have so many times this season. Boston led, 100-99, with 5:45 left, but the Pistons had a furious rally, after Drummond was intentionally fouled.
He made one of the free throws and followed with a lay-in. Harris hit a fadeaway jumper, sparking a 10-2 run, with a drive by Jackson and a three-point play by Drummond.
The Celtics went 2:25 without a field goal during the spurt, bookended by 3-pointers from Marcus Smart, who had 23 points, with six 3-pointers. After Irving made one of two free throws, Drummond had another three-point play and pushed the lead to 112-103.
Boston rallied again, with another 3-pointer from Smart and a drive by rookie Jayson Tatum, to get within 112-108 with 1:29 left, but Jackson hit a pair of free throws and the Celtics didn’t score again.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens lauded the Pistons’ defense — not just Bradley — in being able to disrupt the offense.
“I thought all of them were very good; certainly Avery at the point of attack on defense was great, but I thought they were really, really good,” Stevens said. “They played with great pace, they played with great purpose. They tried to take the ball out of Kyrie’s hands and they did so pretty successfully.
“They were really good tonight; — they’ve been really good most of the year.”
Former Pistons Marcus Morris (13 points) and Aron Baynes (six points, six rebounds) also played their first games against their former team.