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Archive for Sunday, May 25, 2008

Celtics shake road demons

Garnett drops 22 as Boston takes 2-1 series lead

May 25, 2008

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Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins (43) dunks on Detroit Pistons center Rasheed Wallace during the first quarter of Game 3. Perkins scored 12 and the Celtics cruised past the Pistons, 94-80, Saturday in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins (43) dunks on Detroit Pistons center Rasheed Wallace during the first quarter of Game 3. Perkins scored 12 and the Celtics cruised past the Pistons, 94-80, Saturday in Auburn Hills, Mich.

— The Boston Celtics insisted they weren't worried about winning a road game, knowing their time would come in the playoffs.

Perfect timing.

Kevin Garnett scored 22 points to lead Boston to a 94-80 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

"I think our guys just assumed we would eventually win on the road," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said simply.

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 to Detroit in the previous game.

"I think the loss rejuvenated us," Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. "We really wanted to come out and get this one."

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."

Rasheed Wallace of the Pistons disagreed.

"I don't see it as a big thing," he said, choosing not to make his latest guarantee. "It's all about whoever gets to four."

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

"We were very balanced," Garnett said. "We have to somehow duplicate that."

Garnett, Ray Allen (14) and 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, rookie Rodney Stuckey added 17 and Wallace added 12. Two of the Pistons' starters had awful games.

Tayshaun Prince scored four points and Chauncey Billups had six, combining to shoot 3-for-17.

Billups appeared to be slowed after aggravating his right hamstring injury in Game 2.

"I don't think anybody is 100 percent at this point," Garnett said.

Boston scored the first 11 points as six players scored.

The Celtics 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.

"We didn't come out and play. That's it, point blank," 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."

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.

"I thought that was the biggest part of the game for us," Rivers said.

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.

After the Pistons pulled within four early in the second quarter, Boston went on a 16-3 run and maintained the cushion. Pierce had just two points, making the 18-point lead at halftime even more impressive.

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