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Celtics find cure for travel sickness
Mon, May 26, 2008
The Straits Times
AUBURN HILLS (MICHIGAN) - THE Boston Celtics insisted they were not worried about winning a road game, knowing their time would come in the play-offs.

Perfect timing.

Kevin Garnett scored 22 points to lead Boston to a 94-80 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. That gave the Celtics a 2-1 lead in the National Basketball Association Eastern Conference Finals.

'I think our guys just assumed we would eventually win on the road,' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said simply.

The NBA's top-seeded team had lost their first six road games - tying a league record - and were 9-0 at home until losing to Detroit in the previous game.

'I think the loss rejuvenated us,' Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. 'We really wanted to come out and get this one.'

The Pistons will host Game Four today.

'They got home court back,' Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. 'Monday is a crucial game for us - the biggest of the year.'

Rasheed Wallace of the Pistons disagreed.

'I don't see it as a big thing,' he said, choosing not to make his latest guarantee. 'It's all about whoever gets to four.'

Boston's 'Big Three' stars scored as much as their supporting cast.

'We were very balanced,' Garnett said. 'We have to somehow duplicate that.'

Garnett, Ray Allen (14) and Pierce (11) combined for 47 points to match the rest of the team. Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo and James Posey each scored 12 for the Celtics.

'Their role players really hurt us,' Saunders said.

Detroit's Richard Hamilton scored 26 points, rookie Rodney Stuckey added 17 and Wallace added 12.

Two of the Pistons' starters had awful games. Tayshaun Prince scored four points and Chauncey Billups had six, combining to shoot 3-for-17.

Billups appeared to be slowed after aggravating his right hamstring injury in Game Two.

'I don't think anybody is 100 per cent at this point,' Garnett said.

Boston scored the first 11 points as six players scored.

The Celtics led 50-32 after holding Detroit to a play-off low in the first half and getting at least two points from each of the nine Celtics who played.

'We didn't come out and play. That's it, point blank,' Stuckey said. 'We didn't give any effort at all at the start of the game, and you can't do that against a team like that.'

The Pistons pulled within 13 early in the second half, only to have their comeback hopes dashed by the Celtics' 12-0 run.

Boston led by 20-plus points late in the third quarter.

Besides making shots and playing tough defence, the Celtics beat Detroit to a lot of loose balls and offensive rebounds.

Garnett went to the bench with two fouls five minutes into the game and his replacement, P.J. Brown, promptly dunked on his first offensive possession.

'I thought that was the biggest part of the game for us,' Rivers said.

The Pistons responded with a 13-0 run to go ahead for the first time, only to let the Celtics score the last 10 points of the quarter and take a 25-17 lead.

After the Pistons pulled within four early in the second quarter, Boston went on a 16-3 run and maintained the cushion. Pierce had just two points, making the 18-point lead at half-time even more impressive.

Garnett's jumper on the opening possession of the second half put Boston ahead by 20 before Detroit showed some signs of life.

The Pistons pulled within 13 midway through the third, leading to a Celtics time-out.

Boston then scored seven straight, forcing Detroit to call a time-out to search for answers again.

Detroit rallied to pull within 78-87 - their smallest deficit since midway through the second quarter - with three minutes left, but could not get closer in a game in which they trailed by as many as 24 points.

'The way we play, we try to grind it out,' Saunders said. 'It's tough to play from behind like that.'

It is also difficult to play the Celtics when they perform as they did as visitors when they won an NBA-high 31 games before the play-offs.

'I told the guys, 'Hey, during the regular season, we were the best team in the league on the road, so let's go out here and try to show them',' Pierce said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS


'We didn't come out and play. That's it, point blank. We didn't give any effort at all at the start of the game, and you can't do that against a team like that.'
RODNEY STUCKEY, whose Pistons pulled to within 13 points early in the second half, only to have their comeback hopes dashed by the Celtics' 12-0 run


One for seven

BOSTON'S away record in the National Basketball Association play-offs this year:

April 26: Lost 93-102 at Atlanta

April 28: Lost 92-97 at Atlanta

May 2: Lost 100-103 at Atlanta

  • Boston won best-of-seven, first-round play-off 4-3

    May 10: Lost 84-108 at Cleveland

    May 12: Lost 77-88 at Cleveland

    May 16: Lost 69-74 at Cleveland

  • Boston won Eastern Conference semi-final series 4-3

    May 24: Won 94-80 at Detroit

  • Boston lead Eastern Conference Finals series 2-1
     

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