Celtics

Celtics lose 3rd in row, fall to Pistons, 103-88

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Celtics lose 3rd in row, fall to Pistons, 103-88

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Having returned from London Friday afternoon, the Detroit Pistons were supposed to be the ones that would be a step or two slow due to jet-lag.

But it was the Celtics spending most of the night playing catch-up as the Pistons continued their dominance over the C's with a 103-88 win.

Although Detroit (15-25) has been among the NBA's worst teams in recent years, they have managed to have their way with Boston, which has now lost four in a row to the Pistons.

And all four losses have been by double-digits, something no team has done to the Celtics since the Miami Heat swept the four games played against the C's in the 1997-1998 season.

In addition, the loss on Sunday was also Boston's (20-20) third straight after having won six in a row.

Well versed in digging its share of ditches this season, Boston trailed 11-2 to start the game and fell behind by as many 18 points (36-18) in the second quarter.

Maybe they were thinking about the Patriots game because the Cs looked like a team that was both slow and seemingly elsewhere.

And then the Patriots went into the half and the Celtics went on a defensive binge of steals and deflections which created addition scoring opportunities.

Within minutes, this Detroit beat-down became a defensive, scrappy battle that saw the C's respond with a 22-4 run and eventually pull even at 48 on a pair of free throws by Courtney Lee.

Lee was part of a Celtics 1-2 punch off the bench - along with Jeff Green - that kept the C's afloat while most of their teammates drifted in and out between being impact players and flat-out irrelevant.

At the half, Lee and Green each had 12 points and finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

But their play could not put the C's ahead as Detroit closed out the half with a pair of jumpers by Brandon Knight to take a 52-48 lead into the half. Knight led all Detroit scorers with 12 points.

Boston's defensive turnaround in the second came for the most part without Avery Bradley, their top on-the-ball defender.

Bradley was not supposed to play on Sunday. The listed starting five handed out on press row had Leandro Barbosa starting. Even the public address announcer introduced Barbosa as the starter instead of Bradley who managed to convince Doc Rivers at the last minute to give him a shot at playing.

He played just over seven minutes and had two points in the first half, but it was clear that the rib injury he was playing with had an impact on his ability to defend at the level he's accustomed to.

Still, to be down by just four points at the half considering how horrific they began the game was certainly promising for the C's ... or so we thought.

After a Bradley score cut Detroit's lead to 55-54, the Pistons hit back-to-back 3s from almost the same spot on the floor - both with Paul Pierce defending.

It was that kind of game for the Celtics, similar to their 100-99 overtime loss to Chicago on Friday, in which the C's spent a good chunk of the game playing close, but can't get-over-the-hump basketball as the Pistons pushed their one-point lead to nine (67-58) following a put-back dunk by Greg Monroe with about six minutes to play.

Boston cut into the deficit only to once again be turned away as Detroit went into the fourth quarter with an 81-71 lead as the C's never presented any kind of legit threat for the rest of the game.

'Resilient' Celtics continue to find ways to win

'Resilient' Celtics continue to find ways to win

We have seen the Boston Celtics play less-than-stellar basketball for long stretches, only to turn it on in the second half and escape with a win.

But Monday night’s game at Dallas was different.

Usually it has been Boston’s offense that has kept the game closer than expected, but on Monday it was the team’s defense that struggled more than usual.

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But this team continues to show an ability to withstand all in-game struggles to eventually emerge victorious which was exactly what happened as the Celtics rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to knock off the Mavericks 110-102 in overtime.

The Celtics (16-2) have now won 16 in a row which ties the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

But this win, like so many of its predecessors during this historic run, was not one to celebrate afterwards.

“Quite a resilient comeback in the fourth,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Not our best foot forward before that. Of all the comebacks, that did not look good for a long time. We found a way to win it.”

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 47 points, 10 of which came in the overtime period.

But his performance was just one of many Boston needed to extend its winning streak.

“In a game like this, you have to do whatever it takes, both ends of the floor,” Boston’s Jayson Tatum told reporters afterwards.

And he did just that.

In the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Tatum’s defense forced a Harrison Barnes miss that would have won the game for Dallas.

And in the fourth quarter, Tatum’s rebounding was critical to Boston (16-2) extending its stay atop the NBA standings.

The 6-foot-8 rookie had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, with four of his boards coming in overtime.

Boston also got another strong game from Jaylen Brown (22 points, nine rebounds) and Marcus Smart, whose shooting was well off the mark most of the night (3-for-15) but like he has done too many times to count, Smart managed to make a positive impact on the game.

He led the Celtics with eight assists off the bench, in addition to a slew of hustle plays that included a desperation save of a ball going out of bounds that managed to find its way into the hands of Kyrie Irving, who drained a much-needed 3-pointer late in the game.

“Those are worth more than whatever the shot goes in,” Stevens said. “That’s why it’s hard to quantify Marcus Smart.”

The same can be said about Boston’s winning streak, which has come about despite several stretches, every game seemingly, where the Celtics struggle.

But to their credit, they don’t allow the in-game setbacks take away from their focus night-in and night-out and that’s to find a way, any way possible, to emerge with a victory.

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Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie Irving stands tall

Stars, studs and duds: Kyrie Irving stands tall

As NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper talked with Kyrie Irving following his best performance as a Boston Celtic, you could hear the chants “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” from the crowd behind him.
 
Considering the way Irving played on Monday night, that’s not just a case of fandemonium people!
 
Irving delivered a performance that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, tallying 47 points in leading Boston to a 110-102 overtime win at Dallas.
 
With the win, Boston has extended its winning streak to 16 in a row which ties the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
While there were lots of Celtics who contributed to the victory, no one stood as tall as Irving who tallied 10 of Boston’s 16 points in overtime.
 
“We had to claw, fight our way back for this one,” Irving told NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper. “But we had to earn it. These guys, the Dallas Mavericks, they gave us their best shot.”
 
And the Celtics countered with their best shot – Irving.
 
Even before the edge-of-the-cliff finish, Irving was in a rhythm that made it absolutely clear that he was going to have a big night scoring the ball.
 
“We just have to continue to get better from this point,” Irving said.
 
And as far as those “M-V-P” chants?
 
“It’s pretty awesome,” Irving said of the chants. “But we got a long way to go.”
 
Here’s a look at Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-102 overtime win over Dallas which extends Boston’s winning streak to 16 in a row which is the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
 
STAR

Kyrie Irving

This wasn’t even close, folks. Irving kept the Celtics afloat for most of the game, then guided them to victory with a dominant performance. He finished with 47 points, the most he has scored as a Boston Celtic. And on a night when most of the team struggled to make shots, they needed everything he had to offer.
 
 
 
STUDS
 
Harrison Barnes

He had a chance to win it in regulation, but failed to knock down the game-winning shot. Still, Barnes had a strong game for the Mavericks while finishing with 31 points and six rebounds.
 
Jaylen Brown

Kyrie Irving’s backcourt mate had yet another strong performance for the Celtics. He had a near double-double of 22 points and nine rebounds.
 
Jayson Tatum

Don’t let the 15-point total fool you. Tatum was a major factor in Boston’s comebacks with his ability to finish in transition and his defense down the stretch on Barnes gave the Celtics a shot as the game went into overtime.
 
J.J. Barea

The former Northeastern star was a huge spark off the bench for Dallas, tallying 16 points.
 
Marcus Smart

You can count me among those who cringed at a lot of those shots Marcus Smart took – and missed. Despite going 3-for-15 from the field, Boston doesn’t win this game without Marcus Smart. He made hustle plays defensively. He set teammates up for easy scores. And as bad as Smart shot the ball, he did make one of the biggest shots of the night, a 3-pointer that cut Dallas’ lead to 96-94 with 1:23 to play.
 
 

DUDS
 
Al Horford

He poked the ball free from Harrison Barnes late in the game which was a huge play, but for the most part Horford’s imprint on the game was non-existent. He missed four of his five shots from the field, tallying 3 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists.
 
Dennis Smith Jr.

He is an explosive guard and scored six points in the first couple of minutes. From there, he was a non-factor, finishing with eight points on 4-for-16 shooting and maybe most significant, being nothing more than a cool breeze defensively as Kyrie Irving blew by him time and time again.

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