Turnovers burn Pistons in loss to Celtics
Turnovers have been a problem for the Pistons for most of the season, as they’ve given up some easy transition baskets after giving the ball up in live-ball situations.
After some better games, in which they reduced the turnovers, they had one of their worst outings of the season against the Boston Celtics.
A sloppy start continued throughout the first three quarters and the Pistons notched a season-high 24 turnovers, leading to lost possessions, a familiar refrain this season.
The miscues led to a predictable result, a sloppy, 114-93 loss to the Celtics on Friday night at TD Garden.
It’s the third straight loss for the Pistons (11-18), who were without two starters, Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard, and a big rotation piece in Christian Wood. All three have knee issues and that shortage led to some lineup changes, which led to unfamiliarity, which increased the turnovers.
“You’re not going to beat a junior-high team turning the ball over (24) times for 32 points,” coach Dwane Casey said on Fox Sports Detroit following the game. “Until we understand taking care of the ball, understand our game and our responsibilities in trying to do too much, that’s the difference.”
Thon Maker had 15 points and seven rebounds, Derrick Rose 14 points and four assists and Andre Drummond 12 points, 11 rebounds and six steals for the Pistons, who finish the back-to-back on Saturday at home against the Chicago Bulls.
The Pistons got off to a better start to the game and stayed with the Celtics in the first quarter, with a 13-11 lead in the first four-plus minutes, following a 3-pointer by Markieff Morris (10 points and six rebounds) and a basket by Drummond.
The Celtics (19-7) answered with a 6-0 run, with jumpers by Jayson Tatum (26 points and five rebounds), Jaylen Brown (26 points, five rebounds and five assists) and Enes Kanter. That escalated to a 12-4 run, finishing with baskets by Tatum and rookie Romeo Langford — his first career basket.
The Pistons pulled within 28-26 after the first quarter with a jumper by Langston Galloway and a 3-pointer by Maker. The Celtics broke it open in the second quarter with an 11-0 run, making it 41-31 at the 8:13 mark.
Turnovers mounted — with six in the first quarter and 15 total at halftime — with the Pistons surpassing their 23 turnovers for 31 points on Oct. 26 against the Philadelphia 76ers. They stayed close, getting within 50-42 with 2:02 left in the second quarter, following a drive by Rose.
But Brown hit a 3-pointer and off a turnover, Tatum got a steal and hit another 3-pointer, pushing the lead to 14. Bruce Brown and Galloway answered with 3-pointers, but Jaylen Brown ended the half with a 4-point play, for a 60-48 lead.
Tatum helped put the game out of reach with nine straight Boston points and Jaylen Brown had seven points in a 12-0 run toward the end of the quarter. The lead got to 85-63 with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
► Pistons rookie Sekou Doumbouya got his most significant playing time of the season, after he was recalled from the Grand Rapids on Friday to pad the shorthanded roster. The Pistons had just three big men, with Griffin and Wood out. He got a season-high 10 minutes and had two points, a rebound and a steal. Doumbouya finished 1-of-5 from the field and still didn’t look as comfortable as he does in games with the Drive.
► The Celtics dominated on the rebounds, with a 51-36 advantage, including 38-25 on the defensive end. With the mismatch groupings, the Pistons relied on Drummond for 11 boards, but Boston also edged them in offensive rebounds, which isn’t typical. The Pistons are 1-11 then were outrebounded this season.
“They did a great job of boxing out and taking two guys and taking Andre out,” Casey said.
► The Celtics fans were chanting for 7-foot-5 rookie Tacko Fall to enter the game in the third quarter, when the game began to get out of hand. Fall has played sparingly with the Celtics, spending more of his time with the G-League franchise, but he made the most of his time, with five points, two rebounds and a block in five minutes. The highlight was a head-to-head confrontation with 7-foot-1 Thon Maker, which looked to be a block, but was called a foul. He got a dunk on a nice pass and the crowd erupted.
► Mykhailiuk was better in a starting role, subbing for Kennard. He had 12 points, on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range but missed all five of his shots inside the arc. With the Pistons being shorthanded, he’s going to get more clutch minutes and an opportunity to show that he can adjust to regular minutes against starting-caliber players.