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Pistons Overhaul Winless Celts, 100-85

Flat Third Quarter

By Bill Scheft

The Boston Celtics were left searching for answers to their early-season woes last night, as the Celts were soundly downed by the Detroit Pistons 100-85 at Cobo Arena. Boston is now 0-3 on the season.

The third quarter proved to be the Achilles heel for Boston. Leading 49-42 at halftime, the Celtics managed only nine points in the third stanza. And when a team holds the likes of John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, and JoJo White without a point for 12 minutes and scores 27 points on its own, it's time to shake your head and ask why.

Why was because of the Pistons' aggressive, pressing defense. The same kind of half-court pressure that Boston had employed on the boys from the Motor City in the first half (where the half-court pressure forces the other team to set up its offense earlier) was reversed on them in the second half. The result was a series of thrown-away passes, hurried shots, and overall sloppiness by the Celtics.

Meanwhile the Pistons, paced by center Bob Lanier's 33 points and speedy guard Eric Money's 24, clicked for 58 points in the second half to eventually bury Boston by 15.

The key spurt came in the first nine minutes of the third quarter, when the Pistons outscored the Celts 21-4 to go ahead 63-53. Cowens picked up his fourth personal foul early in the quarter and had to play cautiously for the remainder of the contest. The usually potent scoring threat had but five points on the night.

With the Pistons in front 69-58 at the end of three, Boston tried to fast-break back into the lead and almost pulled it off. A three-point play by Tom Boswell (19 points to lead the Celtics) and two straight hoops by White pulled Boston to within three points at 74-71 with seven and a half minutes left.

Cooled Off

But Cowen's fifth foul, and the antics of Lanier, Money, and ex-con Marvin Barnes cooled the Celtics' momentum in a hurry. Barnes' 20-footer with 2:31 remaining gave Detroit a 91-77 lead, and then both squads traded hoops to yawn the game to a close.

A diminutive crown of 4985 (most of whom were either turned off by Monday Night Football in particular or the Red Wings in general) watched their Pistons pump out to an early 10-0 lead before Boston scored its first bucket four minutes into the opening quarter.

Detroit led 26-23 at the end of one before Boston got temporarily aggressive and, thanks mainly to the shooting of Boswell and the passing of ex-Piston Dave Bing, turned the tables for its halftime advantage.

The Celtics now return east for some pseudo-home court advantage, as they take on the Atlanta Hawks in Hartford on Wednesday night.

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