Garnett, balanced Celtics stun Pistons for first playoff road win

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Kevin Garnett led the Boston Celtics to their first win on the road in the playoffs.

He had plenty of help.

Garnett scored 22 points and was one of six players to make the Celtics' first six baskets, helping them build the first of many big leads en route to a 94-80 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

The NBA's top-seeded team had lost its first six road games -- tying a league record -- and was 9-0 at home until losing Detroit in the previous game.

"We took care of business, getting our first win on the road," Garnett said.

The Pistons will host Game 4 on Monday night.

"They got home court back," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "Monday is a crucial game for us -- the biggest of the year."

Detroit rallied to pull within 87-78 -- its smallest deficit since midway through the second quarter -- but couldn't get closer in a game in which it trailed by as many as 24 points.

"We didn't come out and play. That's it point blank," Pistons rookie reserve Rodney Stuckey said. "We didn't give no effort at all at the start of the game, and you can't do that against a team like that."

Boston's Big Three scored as much as its supporting cast.

Garnett, Ray Allen (14) and Paul Pierce (11) combined for 47 points to match the rest of the team. Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo and James Posey each scored 12 for the Celtics.

"Their role players really hurt us," Saunders said.

Detroit's Richard Hamilton scored 26 points and Stuckey added 17.

Tayshaun Prince scored four points on 2-of-11 shooting and Chauncey Billups had six points and appeared to be slowed after aggravating his right hamstring injury in Game 2.

Boston, which scored the first 11 points, led 50-32 after holding Detroit to a playoff-low in the first half and getting at least two points from each of the nine Celtics who played.

"The main concentration was to come out aggressive and get the lead early," Pierce said.

The Pistons pulled within 13 early in the second half only to have their comeback hopes dashed by the Celtics' 12-0 run.

Boston led by 20-plus points late in the third quarter and ABC-TV showed mercy for Saunders, letting him off the hook for his previously scheduled interview before the fourth.

Besides making shots and playing tough defense, the Celtics beat Detroit to a lot of loose balls and offensive rebounds.

Garnett went to the bench with two fouls 5 minutes into the game and his replacement, P.J. Brown, promptly dunked on his first offensive possession.

The Pistons responded with a 13-0 run to go ahead for the first time only to let the Celtics score the last 10 points of the quarter and take a 25-17 lead.

Boston used nine players in the first quarter and they all scored, helping the team shoot 53 percent and hold Detroit to 30 percent.

After the Pistons pulled within four early in the second quarter, Boston went on a 16-3 run and maintained the cushion as it ended the first half ahead 50-32.

Pierce had just two points, making the lead even more impressive.

Garnett's jumper on the opening possession of the second half put Boston ahead by 20 before Detroit showed some signs of life.

The Pistons pulled within 13 midway through the third, leading to the Celtics calling a timeout.

Boston then scored seven straight, forcing Detroit to call a timeout to search for answers again.

"They came out aggressive and we missed some shots," Saunders said. "We're the type of team, the way we play, we try to grind it out. It's tough to play from behind like that."


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