After three quarters of play on Sunday night, the Pistons found themselves beating the Boston Celtics in the rebounding battle, ahead in the assist column, leading the fast break scoring comparison by more than 10, and up on the Celtics by 14 points. But while most NBA fans would see a 14-point fourth quarter lead at home as a time to relax, those following this year's Pistons team see it as a time to slide a little closer to the edge of their seats. The Pistons achilles heel in the fourth quarter this season has been their team defense, which no matter how strong it appears, seems to turn-off like a light switch at the start of the fourth quarter. Still, when the final horn blew on Sunday the Pistons found themselves up on the Celtics 103-83, and the Pistons' consistently poor fourth quarter defense had been replaced with an inconsistent occurrence of strong 48-minute team basketball.
Holding the Celtics to their lowest scoring output of the season, the Pistons had a level of defensive intensity that had not been present in any of their first 11 games. Becoming known as a team that has trouble getting back defensively in transition, the Pistons improved their fast break defense and didn't allow the Celtics to push the ball, holding the Celtics to only four fast break points. In the paint, another problem area for the Pistons' defense, Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe did a solid job of bothering the Celtics at the rim while holding the Celtics to 30 points in the paint. The Pistons forced the Celtics into a lot of individualized offensive possessions, not allowing the Celtics to move the ball around, and causing Boston's attack to take on a easy to defend, one-on-one look. The Celtics recorded only 12 team assists on the night, and Rajon Rondo had 10 of them. Rajon Rondo scored 12 points to go along with his 10 assists, extending his double-double streak to 34 games.
For the Pistons, Greg Monroe led all scorers with a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds. Every Pistons starter except Brandon Knight had double digit scoring efforts, while Rodney Stuckey and Corey Maggette had strong second-unit contributions with 14 and 11 point performances respectively. With 43 points in the paint, many of the Pistons' baskets were coming close to the rim; a product of the strong ball-movement the Pistons displayed with 23 assists on the night. In all, 10 Pistons made it into the scoring column, building-up the team's 52.9 shooting percentage for the game. Just like on the defensive end, the Pistons played a complete game of team basketball on offense.
Watching the Pistons give-up 110 points to a bad Orlando Magic team on Friday night, holding Boston to only 83 points was both refreshing and frustrating. It's nice to know that the Pistons are capable of hanging with and beating the NBA's top teams, but if they truly want to dig themselves out from their lingering 0-8 start the Pistons will have to begin beating the team's that they're supposed to beat. Sunday night was Boston's fourth game in five nights, and had the Pistons caught the Celtics on full rest, the outcome may have been different. The Pistons improved to 2-9 because they took advantage of the Celtics' tired legs, it's time the Pistons started taking advantage of their less-talented opponents. The Pistons take on the Magic on Wednesday night in Orlando, what better place to continue digging themselves out from their 0-8 start.
Kyle Singler started again at the shooting guard spot, scoring 14 points in 24 minutes of play.
Jason Maxiell had 15 points on the night, going 5-10 from the field while showing off an improved mid-range shooting game.
Tags: Basketball, Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva, Corey Maggette, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Kyle Singler, NBA, Orlando Magic, Rajon Rondo, Rodney Stuckey
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