DETROIT — The Pistons haven’t had much success against Boston over the last year, so they were hoping to snap a four-game losing streak to the Celtics on Monday night.
There was a glimmer of hope, for at least the first quarter. After that, Boston pulled away thanks to a tag-team effort in the second quarter by Derrick White and Sam Hauser, along with an inspired Jayson Tatum, who scored 18 of his game-high 34 points in the third quarter.
The result left Detroit with a 111-99 loss to the Celtics, their fifth straight against Boston (third this season). The Pistons dropped to 14-41, while first-place Boston improved to 38-16.
Detroit trailed by as many as 23 points after a poor third quarter, but fought back to bring the game within seven with 4:46 left in the game. The Celtics staved off the Pistons thanks to a few key offensive rebounds and putbacks by Robert WIlliams.
Boston created the distance needed to cruise the rest of the way when Tatum found White on the wing for a clutch 3-pointer, effectively ending the Pistons comeback efforts.
Celtics star shooting guard Jaylen Brown did not play on Monday due to a non-Covid illness.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 21 points and three rebounds. He made his living at the free-throw line, making all seven of his attempts from the stripe. Killian Hayes, who has recently struggled with his shot, had a solid outing and finished with 17 points and nine assists. Jaden Ivey added 14 points and five assists. Saddiq Bey had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Here are a few takeaways from Monday’s loss:
— Tale of two halves for Tatum: Tatum is known for his ability to score at will. He exploded for 43 points in his last game against the Pistons in November, and without Jaylen Brown, all eyes were on him. He missed seven of his first 10 shots, the majority of which were easy looks at the basket. Despite a slow start on offense, Tatum made some noise on the defensive end, specifically when he blocked a layup attempt by Ivey in the second quarter. After halftime, Tatum appeared more aggressive and sought his shot every chance he got. His first 3-pointer went down at the 9:18 mark of the third quarter. He followed that one up with a stepback 3 that splashed through the net. Tatum added 11 rebounds and six assists to go along with his 34 points.
— Detroit’s comeback efforts: The Pistons trailed by 18 going into the fourth quarter. However, they chipped away at the lead, point by point, to come within single digits midway through the period. With each hustle play put forth by the Pistons, the crowd at Little Caesars Arena roared even louder. Hamidou Diallo, who finished with six points and three rebounds, played a big part in that with his energy and effort. He blocked a layup attempt by Grant Williams, which sparked a fastbreak that he was the eventual recipient of as he finished an up-and-under layup while drawing a foul. Despite not being able to finish the job, the comeback was appreciated by the fans as most of them remained in their seats until the final buzzer.
— White and Hauser pace C’s: Without Brown on the floor, the Celtics needed to replace some of that offensive production. Oddly enough, it came in the form of the starting backcourt of Derrick White and Sam Hauser, who scored a career-high 24 points against the Pistons in Boston on Nov. 9. Hauser made five of his first six 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 15 points and six rebounds on 5-of-9 from distance. White was a pest for the majority of the game as he scored inside the paint, from the perimeter and from the free throw line. He lost Hayes to score an easy layup in the second quarter. In the third quarter, he got Alec Burks to bite on a pump-fake and scored the mid-range jumper despite the contact. He even caught Jalen Duren for a rare poster dunk in the first half. He totaled 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
— Duren rebounds: Jalen Duren rebounded, literally and figuratively, from a rough game on Saturday with another dominant performance on the boards on Monday. After scoring just one point with four rebounds on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns, the Pistons’ rookie center totaled seven points and 14 boards. Duren hasn’t compiled many consecutive bad games in a row, so his ability to bounce back is impressive.