Pistons stun shorthanded Celtics
Detroit's Ben Gordon looked very comfortable in his new role coming off the bench and coach Lawrence Frank continued to tweak his lineup.
It added up to an easy win for the suddenly steady Detroit Pistons.
Rodney Stuckey scored 25 points and Gordon hit three 3-pointers in the opening 4:09 of the fourth quarter during a game-breaking spree that carried the Pistons to a 98-88 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
At times during the game, Frank elected to use three guards, a move that seemed to open things up offensively. He joked it's one of many that he may try after a rough start.
''It gives us a little different look, especially when (Ben's) running the team,'' Frank said. ''If something works, I'll stay with it. Heck, I'll play five bigs if I have to. We're not 28-2. I'll continue to experiment.''
Greg Monroe had 22 points and nine rebounds, and Gordon finished with 22 points for the Pistons, who won for the fifth time in seven games.
Gordon was the key down the stretch, going 4 of 6 on 3s in the final quarter. He credited some of it to some of the new combinations on the floor.
''I think it gives us an advantage,'' said Gordon, a reserve the last five games since returning from a sore left shoulder. ''It gets us to the long rebounds to get on the break.''
Boston captain Paul Pierce was upset with his team's record after they finished playing 19 of the first 28 games at home.
''It's very disappointing,'' he said. ''I am very surprised by our inconsistent play. But maybe this team needs a little road trip to get it together.''
The Celtics lost for the third time in four games after a five-game winning streak. Boston plays 14 of its 19 away from TD Garden.
''So far, we've proven we can beat anybody and lose to anybody,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ''That's the maddening part. What we haven't proven is that we can be a consistent basketball team.''
Pierce scored just 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting, and Ray Allen was held to eight free throws until getting his only basket in the closing seconds to finish with 10 points.
Garnett was a late scratch with a hip flexor.
The Pistons led by one entering the final quarter and scored 14 of the first 18 points, pulling to an 87-76 lead on Gordon's 3 from the left corner with 7:51 to play. He also hit a 3 from the top of the key during the spree.
Boston had cut it to 93-86 when Rondo was credited with a basket on a goaltending call, but Gordon nailed a 3 with 1 minute left to seal it.
During the game-breaking run, the Pistons held Rondo scoreless. He missed the only shot he took.
Rondo, who had 19 points at halftime, hit six of 10 shots in the third quarter for 12 points. He had eight of Boston's initial 10 in the quarter.
Things were going so well for Rondo on his outside jumpers that he nailed a 3 in the second quarter, his first since Dec. 30. He had missed his previous nine.
The Celtics had pulled to a 72-67 edge on Wilcox's fallaway jumper late in the third before the Pistons scored the final six points to take a one-point lead into the fourth.
Neither team held a very big lead in a first half filled mostly with open jumpers and limited defense.
Boston started the game quickly, scoring 10 of the initial 13 points for the biggest lead held by either team in the opening half. But without Garnett's influence on defense, the Pistons started getting easy shots and hit 52.6 percent (10 of 19) in the first quarter.
Notes: Rivers said Garnett ''looked great in the morning shootaround'' about an hour before the game. ... The Celtics play the final four before the All-Star break on the road, then open up in Cleveland. Their next home game is Feb. 29 against Milwaukee. ... Gordon was whistled for a technical midway into the third. ... Hall of Famer Bill Russell was in the stands and got a standing ovation when he was shown on the Jumbotron. ... The Pistons host Boston on Sunday after playing at home against Sacramento on Friday. ... It was the second of three meetings between the teams. The Celtics won the first, 96-85 at TD Garden on Dec. 30.