for this game

Billups, Pistons hand Celtics first home loss

Dec 20, 2007 - 4:39 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Detroit Pistons managed to make the loudest statement of all.

Chauncey Billups made two free throws with one-tenth of a second remaining and scored a game-high 28 points as the Pistons handed the Boston Celtics their first home setback of the season, 87-85, on Wednesday at a frenzied TD Banknorth Garden.

Richard Hamilton added 21 points for the Pistons (18-7), who improved to a league-best 9-2 on the road while Boston (20-3) had their 12-game home-court winning streak snapped.

"It was a fun game to play, a fun game to watch," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "It was playoff-intense, it was pretty aggressive out there. I would say, by far, it was the most aggressive game (this season) with all five guys going against each other. It got a little bit chippy, so it was a little bit playoff-like atmosphere."

"You're looking at two of the best teams in the league and a team that hasn't lost at home," Billups said. "Outside of that, you're looking at a regular game."

Kevin Garnett had 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Celtics, who also saw their nine-game winning streak come to an end. Ray Allen, in his first game back from a sore right ankle that forced him to miss the last two contests, added 24 points.

The game featured the two top defensive teams in the NBA as the Celtics came in allowing just 86.5 points while the Pistons were second at 91.5.

To no one's surprise, the contest also featured physical play and trash-talking throughout. But it was Detroit that made the biggest statement in the fourth quarter.

Boston took a 65-61 lead into the final 12 minutes, but Lindsey Hunter hit a 3-pointer with 9:42 remaining in the fourth, giving the Pistons a 68-67 lead - their first since early in the first quarter.

A steal by Antonio McDyess and layup by Hamilton moments later put the Pistons up by three.

After Allen's shot from the arc with 4:28 cut Detroit's lead to 81-78, McDyess hit two free throws 20 seconds later to build the lead back to five.

Trailing, 85-79, Boston's Eddie House hit a 3-pointer with 1:00 remaining. Then, as the shot clock was winding down, Allen completed the comeback with a 3-pointer with 18.9 seconds remaining that tied the game, 85-85.

Billups then lost the ball to Garnett with 5.1 seconds to go, but Pierce missed a fallaway jumper with 1.7 remaining, giving Detroit one final chance.

"We had a couple options, and I came up wide open and I had a wide open shot and came up short," Pierce said. "That's what happens. I think I kind of rushed the shot and I should drive for the last shot, but you know those are the breaks of the game. I took the first available open shot."

Pistons assistant coach and former guard Terry Porter called on his experience and offered it up as advice in the final timeout.

"Terry was telling whoever was going to get the ball that there's time enough, if you don't have a good look," Billups said. "I thought I had a pretty good look, but he said there's time to give a good head fake, and that's what I did."

Tony Allen jumped in the air and fouled Billups just before the final horn as he attempted a jumper, setting up the winning free throws.

"A lot of times, it's just a mind game, just like the last play of the game," Billups said of his pump-fake. "1.7 seconds, they know it's quick-shooting, so if I can get him up and get on the line, that's great."

While the Pistons' coaches encouraged the head-fake, the Celtics' coaching staff warned of the maneuver.

"That's who they are," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I mean, even their last play. It's a good lesson for our guys. You know, in shootaround, I had to get on them today about paying attention.

"And one of the things we kept saying is, 'Chauncey Billups pump-fakes, Chauncey Billups pump-fakes.' And Chauncey Billups pump-faked into a foul. So, it was a good lesson for us there."

"Clever, very clever move out on the basketball court," House added. "That was just a veteran move, got a guy come in for defensive reasons and a guy who's probably got his emotions going a little bit. That's all right. Live and learn."

Rajon Rondo hit five of his first six shots from the field. His 10 first-quarter points helped the Celtics build an early 17-11 lead.

Rondo wasn't the only Celtic hitting his shots as Boston shot a blistering 62 percent from the field in the first half, building a 52-45 lead.

Midway through the third quarter the Pistons managed to cut an eight-point deficit down to two, 56-54, when Rasheed Wallace and Billups hit consecutive 3-pointers.

While shooting just 38.5 percent in the first half, the Pistons stayed in the game by catching fire from the arc, hitting nine of their first 17 3-pointers against the best team defending the 3-pointer in the league.

"We have a lot of work to do," Pierce said. "Obviously, it's a long season, and I'd rather take our bumps and bruises now, rather than later in the season."

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