for this game

Celtics entertain Pistons in Beantown

Apr 3, 2011 - 2:54 PM (Sports Network) - Time is running out on the Boston Celtics as they try to claim the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

In fact, Boston now finds itself in with the third seed in the East as the club gets ready to host the lottery-bound Detroit Pistons in Beantown.

The Celtics split a four-game road trip after Friday's 88-83 loss in Atlanta. Paul Pierce led Boston with a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds in that one, while Rajon Rondo scored 13 with 10 rebounds.

Ray Allen added 11 points in the loss and the Celtics are now one-half game behind the Miami Heat for the No. 2 spot in the East and 3 1/2 games behind the Bulls for the top spot.

"I thought there was a point in the third quarter where we had the game in hand," said Pierce. "We could have stretched it and we're playing pretty good defense. I thought we were settled and we could have pushed the lead. But they took it to us in the final quarter."

Delonte West and Kevin Garnett both finished with 10 points, and Garnett grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss, Boston's second in three games.

On the injury front for the Celtics, Jermaine O'Neal has played in the team's last two games after missing 36 with a knee injury while center Shaquille O?Neal, who has been sidelined since Feb. 1 with a strained left Achilles' tendon, is close to returning.

Detroit, meanwhile, is coming off its latest loss to the Bulls on Friday when Derrick Rose posted 27 points and seven assists to lead Chicago to its 11 consecutive win over the Pistons, 101-96.

Richard Hamilton dropped in 30 points for Detroit, but it wasn't enough in the club's fifth loss in six games. The Pistons were also officially eliminated from the playoff race at 26-49. Tayshaun Prince totaled 17 points and six assists for Detroit, which retired Dennis Rodman's No. 10 jersey at intermission.

"I wish we could have won for the guys that were here to tonight," said Pistons head coach John Kuester, referring to Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas and other teammates of Rodman present for the ceremony.

Detroit, which is a dismal 7-30 on the road this season, will be attempting to snap a nine-game skid as the visitor tonight.

The Celtics have won four of five overall versus the Pistons, including two of three meetings this season.