Celtics win in Pierce's season debutDec 31, 2011 - 5:08 AM Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Paul Pierce had 12 points in his season debut, and Boston finally broke into the win column with a 96-85 decision over the Detroit Pistons.
A bruised right heel forced Pierce to sit out Boston's opening swing through New York, Miami and New Orleans -- all losses -- but he started Friday's contest.
The Celtics received a team-high 19 points from Jermaine O'Neal. Ray Allen and Brandon Bass each scored 17 for Boston, which dominated the third quarter by outscoring the Pistons, 36-21.
"Just having Paul on the floor...the space is so different," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
Greg Monroe scored 22 and had nine rebounds for the Pistons, who fell to 0-3 for the second straight season.
The Celtics went 15-of-21 from the field in the third quarter, led by nine points from Bass, who made all four of his shots. Because of the prolific shooting, the Celtics turned a seven-point halftime lead into a double-digit advantage and ran away from the Pistons.
A 10-foot jumper from Bass widened the gap to 72-53 with 4:47 left in the third and O'Neal's layup expanded the margin to 83-59 inside two minutes.
"In the third quarter we did a better job of just turning up the energy and taking away easy passes and taking a turnover and turning it into some offense," Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said.
Holding an 86-64 cushion going into the fourth, the Celtics cruised to their first win.
"That quarter (third) has been giving us problems in all three games," Monroe said. "We've got to come out of halftime with more energy. Just got to come out and withstand those runs. We've got to be the ones that make those runs as opposed to the other teams early in the third quarter."
Pierce got on the scoreboard with a layup with just under nine minutes left in the opening quarter and Boston scored nine in a row later in the period for a 22-15 lead.
The Celtics held a 24-22 edge after 12 minutes and led by as many as 12 in the second.
Garnett, who had eight points, is one game shy of 1,200 for his NBA career...Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank served as an assistant coach for the Celtics last season...Boston has won three straight and six of the last seven meetings.
- DETROIT: 85
Dec 30 9:52 PM
- DETROIT: 64
End of 3rd
Dec 30 9:20 PM
- DETROIT: 43
Dec 30 8:40 PM
- DETROIT: 22
End of 1st
Dec 30 8:07 PM
- DETROIT: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Dec 30 7:43 PM
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