for this game

Davis explodes in fourth as Celtics edge Pistons

Jan 6, 2008 - 5:15 AM By Dave Hogg PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Saturday night was supposed to be another matchup between the Boston Celtics' "Big Three" and Detroit Pistons' "Big Five." Glen Davis changed the script.

The rookie Davis scored 16 of his career-high 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the Celtics beat the Pistons, 92-85, in a battle of the NBA's hottest teams.

"It feels real good to be able to contribute in a big game," said Davis, who had only scored a total of 10 points in Boston's last five games. "I can't get too excited, though. We're going to have to play this team again before it is over."

Boston has won nine straight and 18 of 19. The only blemish since late November was a 87-85 home loss to the Pistons on December 19.

"Our guys needed this one," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "We had to return the favor."

The Pistons had won 11 straight entering Saturday's play, two short of a franchise record.

"They outhustled us, they outrebounded us and they just outplayed us," Detroit guard Chauncey Billups said. "Give Davis credit. He was an unlikely hero, but he came up big."

The teams came in with a combined record of 54-10, the third best in NBA history for a matchup at least 30 games into a season.

"This is a huge win for us, because we won in a playoff atmosphere on the road against a team that had won 11 games in a row," said Celtics guard Paul Pierce, who had 19 points and nine rebounds.

While everyone was watching two rosters filled with All-Stars, it was Davis who stepped up at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The former Louisiana State star scored nine points in less than six minutes to help Boston to a 79-74 lead with 5:54 to play.

"They were stopping me and stepping up on Ray (Allen) and (Kevin) Garnett," Pierce said. "That left (Davis) open, and he made the shots."

Boston got a break late in the game when Richard Hamilton and Billups missed 3-of-4 free throws. The pair entered the game shooting a combined 88 percent from the free-throw line.

"Those things happen, but I never want to see those two on the line," Rivers said. "You just expect them to make everything."

Hamilton's 3-pointer pulled Detroit within one with 2:36 left, but Davis answered with another three-point play, kept another possession alive with an offensive rebound, then added another basket to make it 88-84 with 57 seconds left.

"(Davis) scored and he played great defense against (Wallace), but that rebound might have been his biggest play," Rivers said. "That was phenomenal."

Billups missed a tying 3-pointer with 30 seconds left, and Davis put the game away with a layup.

"He made big shots and big plays," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "I don't think either team was great offensively, but they really hurt us on the offensive boards and we never got into a flow. Boston had something to do with that, but I think we got a little anxious, especially late."

Garnett added 15 points for the Celtics after getting in early foul trouble. With him on the bench for most of the first quarter, the Pistons went on a 17-0 run.

"We lost our fight when Kevin went out," Rivers said. "We were waiting for him to come back, so I had to burn a timeout and tell everyone that he wasn't coming back any time soon, and that we needed to play."

The Celtics were down 22-12 at the end of one, but used a 29-point second quarter to pull within 43-41 at the half.

Detroit got another of Boston's "Big Three" in foul trouble in the third period, but didn't respond with another rally. With Allen sitting down with four fouls, Garnett scored eight points to help the Celtics pull into a 57-57 tie.

The Pistons led 66-63 at quarter's end, then added another point after Kendrick Perkins was called for a technical during the break between periods.

Boston, though, tied the game early in the fourth, setting up Davis' heroics.

Hamilton scored 18 points and Billups and Wallace added 16 apiece for Detroit.

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