Stud of the Night The Celtics bench showed no fear playing on the road in a hostile environment. James Posey (12 points, four rebounds), Sam Cassell (five points), P.J. Brown (four) and Glen Davis (two) gave Boston a huge lift. They came up especially big at the end of the first quarter, when Kevin Garnett (right) and Ray Allen got in foul trouble. Cassell and Brown sparked a 10-0 run to close out the quarter for a 25-17 lead from which Detroit would never fully recover.
Dud of the Night Perhaps still bothered by his sore right hamstring suffered in Game 2, Chauncey Billups had just six points (on 1-for-6 shooting) to go four assists and three rebounds in 27 minutes. It didn't help that he got into early foul trouble and wound up getting a long seat on the bench. "He just didn't have a good game," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "He didn't play well."
Under the Radar Celtics center Kendrick Perkins had by far his best game of the series. The 6-10 pivot had 12 points (on 6-for-7 shooting) to go with 10 boards. He also made a few key plays, including a circus tip-in of a Garnett miss midway through the third after Detroit had cut the lead to 13. "Perk was terrific tonight with that energy, ducking in, looking for the ball," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
Turning Point After sitting nine minutes with two fouls, Garnett checked back into the game with 9:53 to play in the second quarter and his team ahead 29-23. KG proceeded to spark a 16-3 run that stretched Boston's lead to 50-32 at the half. Garnett had eight points during the span, including an alley oop dunk on a feed from Rajon Rondo. KG also came out and stuck a jumper on his team's first possession of the second half just to make certain Detroit had no illusions about a comeback on this night.
Courtside Confidential The Pistons weren't the only sports show in town Saturday night. The Red Wings played Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals downtown at Joe Louis Arena. It was believed to be the first time a city has hosted such events at the same time. Amazingly, the Tigers were also playing downtown at Comerica Park. Pistons fans were kept abreast of developments several times on the overhead scoreboard, with cheers just as loud for the Tigers' 19-3 victory over the Twins as for the Red Wings' 4-0 victory over the Penguins.
What's Next? Typical Pistons. They always have to do things the hard way. Now Rip Hamilton and his mates face a virtual must-win situation in Monday night's Game 4. The Pistons can't afford to go down 3-1 heading back to Boston. Their first priority will be to get Billups back on track. Rookie backup Rodney Stuckey has played well off the bench all series, but the Pistons are going to need their Mr. Big Shot for such a crucial game.
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