The Celtics were undermanned on Sunday night and it proved costly. The hosts stumbled down the stretch and dropped a 105-97 overtime affair to the Detroit Pistons.
It was the third consecutive loss for the Celtics, who played without their top-two point guards in Marcus Smart (suspension) and Isaiah Thomas (bruised tailbone).
As expected, the absence of both players was tough to overcome for the shorthanded Celtics, as the remainder of the roster lacked offensive firepower for most of the night.
Boston shot just 36.2 percent from the field in the contest and a paltry 32.3 percent in the second half. The lack of reliable offense late in the game led to a blown six-point fourth quarter lead, and the Pistons rallied to force overtime. From there, Detroit dominated the extra period, opening overtime with a 7-0 run and outscoring Boston 17-9 down the stretch on their way to a victory.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a game-high 27 points, and Andre Drummond added 18 points and 22 rebounds for the visitors, who won their second straight game.
Evan Turner led the Celtics with a team-high 20 points and eight assists, but he failed to get a shot off on the final possession of regulation in a tie game. Turner drove to the right on the play and appeared ready to pull-up for a midrange jumper, but the ball slipped out of his hand just before time expired.
Jae Crowder added 19 points while filling in for Smart in the starting lineup and was not pleased with the blown opportunity that knocked the Celtics out of the playoff picture for the time being.
“We need a sense of urgency from everybody [to right this ship],” Crowder said after the game. “I feel we came out lackadaisical without a lot of fire, but we gotta get it going, set the tone earlier. We’ll be fine.”
Brad Stevens pointed to the team’s struggles on the offensive end as the main issue in the defeat.
“We had 105 shots and lost the game,” Stevens explained. “We got 16 more shots than our opponent. I thought we had a few possessions in the third quarter that were outstanding, where the ball was really whipping around. I thought late in the game we had a few too many dribbles on possessions and/or just not being assertive enough. There’s a fine line there. You shoot 36 percent on a given night, you’re probably not going to win in the NBA at any level and we didn’t.”
The defeat dropped Boston down into a tie with the Indiana Pacers for the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics now trail the Charlotte Hornets by a 1/2 game for the final spot in the East.