Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown poured in 26 points apiece and sat for the entire fourth quarter as Boston rolled, 114-93, over the Pistons on Friday night.
The Celtics won easily despite Kemba Walker’s 2-point, 7-turnover night, along with the absences of Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart. The Pistons committed 25 turnovers.
Observations from the game:
■ Brown’s 3-point shooting has been inconsistent this year, but he put on quite a show in the final moments of the first half. He swished one from the left corner, then came up with a steal and quickly drilled another from the top of the key. He had a bit of a heat-check on Boston’s next play — his deep step-back try was an airball — but that did not deter him. With 1.1 seconds left, he stepped back and hit another deep 3 as he was fouled. The ensuing free throw gave him 10 points in just 92 seconds. The confidence Brown displayed might have been more important than the shots themselves.
■ The Celtics’ absences have been well documented, but it’s worth pointing out that the Pistons are a bad team at full strength, and on Friday, they were missing three of their top seven scorers, including Blake Griffin. It never felt like they had a chance.
■ The Celtics might not have the roster depth of recent seasons, but they have consistently found a way when undermanned. Brad Wanamaker and Enes Kanter have been incredibly consistent, and Grant Williams and Javonte Green are having their moments, too.
■ Williams, most recently known for starting the season by missing 25 consecutive 3-pointers, is suddenly on a bit of a hot streak. He drilled his only attempt of the first half and added another in the second, making him 4 for 10 the last five games. Williams had some other promising offensive moments, including a strong drive for a layup that was followed by a tough putback inside. He added a couple of tough mid-range shots off the dribble in the third quarter, before some strong finishes inside in the fourth gave him a career-high 18 points.
■ It’s been a while since fans really clamored for Tacko Fall during a game. Granted, that’s partly because the 7-foot-5 center has mostly been with the Red Claws. But he was here Friday, and the score was lopsided, and the people wanted to see him. There were some scattered chants in the first half, and then, just past the midway point of the third quarter, the ‘We want Tacko’ calls sort of took over the game.
The crowd erupted when he simply stood up to give Walker a high five midway through the fourth quarter. Then, coach Brad Stevens twirled his hands to rev up the crowd a bit more before signaling for Fall to go to the scorer’s table. The crowd stood and erupted, and stayed on its feet after that. Fall entered with 4:31 to go, rolled in a little jump-hook with 1:28 left, and added a dunk a minute later, much to the crowd’s delight.
■ The Pistons came out of a first-quarter timeout in a zone defense, a trend increasingly common around the NBA. The defense led to a missed shot by Tatum, but the Celtics capitalized anyway by grabbing two offensive rebounds — an area in which the zone is quite susceptible, particularly against elite athletes.
■ It’s been a bumpy rookie year for Romeo Langford, who has dealt with one nagging injury after another. But he’s healthy now, and the undermanned Celtics need him. He showed a glimpse of why Boston used the 14th overall pick on him, as he carved through the lane for a nice lefty finish for his first NBA basket. He had 6 points.
■ The lack of healthy bodies has forced Stevens to try some unusual combinations. This one near the start of the second quarter was especially unique: Brown, Grant Williams, Wanamaker, Daniel Theis, and Green.
■ The coaches challenge system remains a work in progress — and a time killer — but the Pistons had a successful one in the second quarter. Markieff Morris was called for his third foul after tangling with Brown, but the review showed Brown was the culprit, and the call was reversed. Then the Pistons turned the ball over anyway, so does anything even matter?
■ Walker did not let his quiet offensive night affect his hustle. Pistons star Andre Drummond came up with a second-quarter steal and rumbled upcourt on a fast-break, and plenty of players would have just ceded the dunk and moved on. But Walker charged forward and clogged Drummond’s lane, forcing him into a clumsy-looking travel.
■ Theis did a solid job making things difficult for Drummond in the post. He finished with 4 blocks in 22 minutes.
■ Granted, a couple came after he gathered his own missed shots, but Kanter was a force on the backboards, too. He pulled down 18 rebounds in just 21:29.
■ Wakefield native Bruce Brown received a nice ovation when he was introduced in Detroit’s starting lineup. He had about 60 friends and family in attendance.