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Horford, Celtics send Pistons to sixth straight loss

By Dana Gauruder
The Sports Xchange

December 10. 2017 10:49PM

Boston Celtics forward Al Horford shoots on Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris in the first half at Little Caesars Arena. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

DETROIT -- Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics took some extra satisfaction from defeating the slumping Detroit Pistons on the road.

The Celtics allowed a season-high 118 points in a home loss to the Pistons on Nov. 27. By clogging the lane, Boston flipped the script on Sunday. It held the Pistons to season lows in points and field-goal percentage in a 91-81 victory at Little Caesars Arena.

Boston (23-5), which has won five of its last six, was coming off a three-point road loss at San Antonio on Friday.

"I wouldn't call it payback," said Irving, the Celtics' star point guard. "It's just always good when you can respond the way you want to, especially on their home floor, just like they did on our home floor. They took care of business and we wanted to come here and take care of business. We not only responded to that loss at home but also to a tough Spurs loss."

Power forward Al Horford stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Irving tossed in 16 points while Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown had 12 apiece for Boston. Rookie Jayson Tatum added 11 points and Aron Baynes snared a season-high 13 rebounds for the Celtics, who overcame a scoreless drought of more than six minutes in the fourth quarter.

Baynes was primarily responsible for holding Pistons center Andre Drummond to a season-low six points, 20 fewer than he had in the first meeting.

"We were locked in," Baynes said. "Our offense wasn't as crisp tonight as we wanted it to be but defensively we had a game plan and we stuck with it. We were trying to pack the paint and make them make plays from the outside. Last time, they really had whatever they wanted inside the paint. Tonight, we wanted to go out there and control it a lot better."

Detroit shot 33.3 percent (28-for-84) from the field in its sixth consecutive loss, while Boston shot 41.8 percent (33-for-79).

Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson missed all nine of his shot attempts and the starters were a combined 13-for-50 from the field.

"They didn't take their body off of (Drummond) at all on any of his rolls and stuff and we weren't able to exploit it with other guys," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It did get other guys shots but we didn't make them."

Tobias Harris led the Pistons (14-12) with 19 points. Anthony Tolliver contributed a season-high 15 points off the bench, Avery Bradley had 12 and Ish Smith added 11.

The Pistons' losing streak is their longest since they dropped 10 straight in February and March 2015.

"Because we've been on a losing streak, the frustration justs seeps in a little bit quicker," Harris said. "For us, it's going to be a matter of keeping our composure and really just being locked into the next play."

Irving scored 11 first-half points, and the Celtics led 44-37 at halftime.

Boston assumed command early in the second half. The Pistons went scoreless for over five minutes and missed their first nine shots. The Celtics reeled off 10 unanswered points during that span, capped by a Horford 3-pointer for a 54-37 lead.

Tolliver's layup late in the quarter brought the Pistons within 10, but a Terry Rozier 3-pointer in the final second made it 73-59.

Boston led by 16 before the Pistons reeled off 12 unanswered points.

Detroit cut the deficit under double digits on a Harris 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining. He hit another, then Smith drove for a layup to make it 79-75. A Brown basket ended the Celtics' scoring drought, which lasted 6:20.

A Tatum 3-pointer with 1:55 left nudged Boston's lead to 87-79 and stifled Detroit's rally.

NOTES: Celtics SF Marcus Morris missed the game due to left knee soreness. ... Boston rookie SF Jayson Tatum leads the NBA in 3-point percentage, a surprise to Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. "Look, I thought he was the best prospect in the draft. He's got all the tools," he said. "The thing is, anybody who says they're not surprised by (a rookie's) 3-point shooting, based on what he did in college, is lying." ... Detroit PG Ish Smith made his 300th career steal in the second half. ... Boston has won its past four road games against Detroit. ... The Celtics complete a back-to-back by playing at Chicago on Monday while the Pistons finish off a three-game homestand against Denver on Tuesday.