Jayson Tatum hit a game-winning jumper with 2.9 seconds remaining as the Celtics held off the Pistons in a Sunday shootout with a 122-120 victory. Tatum (24 points, career-high 12 assists, 8 rebounds) carried Boston’s offense down the stretch with his game-winner along with a crucial kickout to Jaylen Brown (31 points on 13-of-16 FG) for a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute. Boston’s defense struggled for much of the afternoon again against a hot-shooting Pistons team (44 percent from 3) but they managed to get the buckets necessary in crunch time to avoid the back-to-back losses.
All five starters scored in double figures for Boston with Semi Ojeleye (11 points) providing a crucial offensive boost off the bench once Jeff Teague went down with an ankle sprain. Jerami Grant had a team-high 22 points for the Pistons in the loss but defensive concerns clearly remain for Boston after allowing the hosts to shoot 48 percent from the field with six players tallying in double figures.
The Celtics improved to 4-3 with the victory and will face off with a desperate Raptors team (1-4 start to the year) on Monday night in Tampa.
First Half Notes
The Celtics played their first real defense of the day in the second quarter, using a 8-2 run to give them their first lead since the opening moments of the first quarter
89 points for Jaylen Brown 36/52 FG
Jaylen Brown: The athletic swingman is in the midst of the best offensive stretch of his career. He’s scored 89 points in his last nine quarters of play on 36-of-52 shooting from the field. He led all scorers in the first half on Sunday afternoon.
Jayson Tatum: The All-Star carried the second unit in the beginning of the second quarter on the offensive end, posting 13 points and a team-high five assists to help Boston build a four-point lead at the half.
First quarter defense: The Pistons came out red-hot against the C’s big-man starting five in this one, knocking down nine of their first 11 shots on their way to 63 percent shooting from the field in the opening frame.
Grant Williams: The second year forward was removed from Boston’s rotation in the second half of the back-to-back after struggling offensively in crunch time on Friday night. Semi Ojeleye saw the bulk of his minutes.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 3, 2021
WHO: Celtics (3-3) vs. Pistons (1-4)
WHEN: 3:00 p.m.
WHERE: Little Caesars Arena
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jayson Tatum
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Tristan Thompson
C: Daniel Theis
G: Killian Hayes
F: Blake Griffin
F: Josh Jackson
F: Jerami Grant
C: Mason Plumlee