The Boston Celtics bounced back from Sunday's loss to Cleveland with a 119-93 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night. The Celtics (42-24), who went into the game on the back of three defeats in their previous four games, cruised to a 64-35 half-time lead and were able to rest most of their starters in the fourth quarter.
"After that miserable display yesterday [on Sunday], we had to come back strong," said Boston's Rasheed Wallace, who scored eight points. Kevin Garnett had 14 points and eight rebounds while Paul Pierce and Ray Allen both scored 15 points for the Celtics. "We have been talking and talking. At some point it's time to show some actions," Garnett said. Will Bynum had 16 points and seven assists for the woeful Pistons (23-44), who were beaten for the ninth time in 11 games and lost Tayshaun Prince in the first quarter to a back injury.
Injuries have robbed Detroit of several key players for most of the season and they now look destined to miss out on the play-offs for the first time since the 2000-01 season. "They were good. We were bad," said John Kuester, the Pistons coach. "It was one of the few games that our energy wasn't the way it should be, and I'm disappointed with the way we played." The Celtics are trying to return to their championship form of two seasons ago.
They are just 19-19 overall since Christmas Day and have made trades in an attempt to rejuvenate their ageing team. Michael Finley, who was signed on March 6, contributed 15 points in his best showing yet for his new side. "I didn't know what to expect, honestly," said Doc Rivers, the Boston coach. "He hadn't played a lot this year with San Antonio and he wasn't making shots. "I just don't believe a guy can forget how to shoot.
"So we thought if we could get him in here and get him some looks ... they would go in." And Rivers felt Pierce's play is improving after coming back from injury. "It's coming around," said Rivers. "It's still not there, but that was great to see. He looked explosive. I think he's getting closer [to top form], and our team's getting closer." In a dominant display, every Celtics player who made it on to the court managed to score and the home team scored at an impressive rate of 62 per cent.
Elsewhere on Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers extended their winning streak against the Golden State Warriors to nine games, but only just. The Lakers committed 24 turn-overs and allowed 100 shots before holding on at the end for their 124-121 win. These two may well meet again in the play-offs but the Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who scored 29 points, said the match was not an indicator of how a post-season meeting between the two sides might go.
"You're not going to see anything remotely close to this in the play-offs," he said. "Not even close. There's nothing you can gauge in this game. You just get out of here with a win and move on." The Lakers led by 11 points late in the fourth quarter but the win was not sealed until Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis missed three-pointers in the final seconds. Ellis's last-ditch attempt bounced on the rim three times before falling to the side at the buzzer. * With agencies