Pistons can't dig out of another big hole, lose 102-93 against Celtics

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

The Pistons’ offense has had its struggles for much of the season. In some games, it’s poor 3-point shooting. In others, it’s free throws.

In Friday’s matchup against the Boston Celtics, it was the shots inside the arc where they had a hard time. For most of the game, they were shooting below 30% on 2-point shots, and they finished at 31% with some better production in the second half.

By then, the Celtics had built a double-digit lead, and the Pistons couldn’t dig out of another big hole, falling to a 102-93 loss on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena.

It’s the seventh loss in the last eight games for the Pistons (12-40), who next play on Sunday afternoon at Minnesota, a rematch of Thursday’s loss to the Timberwolves.

BOX SCORE: Celtics 102, Pistons 93

Hamidou Diallo had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Saddiq Bey 21 points and four assists and Jerami Grant 10 points and three rebounds. Diallo (8-of-17) and Killian Hayes (5-of-11) were the only Pistons players to shoot 40% or better from the field.

Pistons guard Hamidou Diallo (6) of the Detroit Pistons gets a shot off between Celtics' Al Horford (42) and Robert Williams III (44) during the first half.

"(Diallo’s) energy was the difference in the game in the first half,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Hami brought it to the table with his energy and his athleticism, attacking the rim and attacking their feet was prominent. I was really happy to see that out of Hami."

The shooting struggles abounded, with Grant going 3-of-12, Isaiah Stewart 2-of-10 and Trey Lyles 3-of-10. Their 3-point shooting helped keep them in the game, as they went 10-of-26 from beyond the arc, for a respectable 39%.

“Some of the looks we had inside were in-and-out, point-blank lay-ups and point-blank pubacks,” Casey said. “You can't explain that and it's more the physical and mental fatigue that I thought we had the entire night."

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The Celtics (29-25) surged at the end of the first quarter, with Jaylen Brown (13 points and seven rebounds) getting a 3-pointer and splitting a pair of free throws for a 17-11 lead. Brown added a turnaround jumper and the lead pushed to eight. After a putback dunk by Al Horford, the Celtics had a 28-16 lead entering the second quarter.

Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) shoots on Boston Celtics guard Josh Richardson.

The Pistons were shooting just 29 % from the field midway through the second quarter, before a 3-pointer by Bey cut the lead to 40-29. The Celtics kept the pressure on, with a dunk by Robert Williams (11 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks) starting a 6-2 spurt to finish the half with a 46-31 advantage for Boston.

"It was tough because some of the shots just went in and out,” Bey said. “We were comfortable with the shots we were taking."

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The Celtics started the third quarter with a tip-in and a floater from Marcus Smart to create more cushion, but Jayson Tatum got things going, with 19 of his 24 points in the period. Tatum had back-to-back 3-pointers, pushing the lead to 16, and the run reached 16-5, and a 78-56 lead for the Celtics entering the fourth quarter.

Diallo had 13 of his points in the third quarter, when the Pistons looked to be out of it, but his energy helped them rally around something that was going right for them.

"That's his game. That's how he plays,” Bey said. “It's not a surprise."

The Pistons made a run in the final minutes, getting within 100-93 after a 3-pointer by Hayes with 20.6 seconds left, but the Celtics added a couple of free throws for the final margin.

After making four 3-pointers, Bey became the fifth-fastest player in NBA history to make 300 3-pointers. Bey needed 122 games, a far cry from the Miami Heat's Duncan Robinson (Michigan), who reached the mark in just 95 games. 

"I didn't know that. I wasn't even paying attention. That's crazy, because I feel like I haven't been making as many as I did last year," Bey said. "I think it's a blessing and I'm grateful for this opportunity, first that my coaches have given me, just to be able to play day in and day out, and the man above for keeping me healthy.

"I'm grateful to be part of that company, but I'm definitely motivated to try to produce some more."


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard