BOSTON - Rajon Rondo was on top of his game Wednesday night. Unfortunately, his Boston Celtics teammates were not. Rondo's terrific effort alone (he had a career-high 35 points) was not enough to power his team as the Detroit Pistons marched into TD Garden and outplayed the C's down the stretch to claim a 98-88 win on Wednesday.
"I just was a little more aggressive," said Rondo about his game and the lack of Kevin Garnett. "I just hit the shots ... when I was open. I made some, I missed some."
Rondo made a Celtic season high 15-of-27 field goals and also had six assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes. Rondo has been playing MVP-caliber basketball as of late, and he is coming off a triple-double (32 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds) in the team's win over Chicago last Sunday.
Chris Wilcox played his best game with the team, tallying 17 points and nine rebounds while finishing off a couple alley-oops and missed shots from Rondo. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were relatively mediocre, scoring 10 points a piece. JaJuan Johnson continued his streak of productive games, collecting 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.
"It was a disappointing loss to a team I think we should beat," Pierce noted after the game. "The defense let us down and we couldn't consistently get stops. [We] consistently let the driving lane open on the inside. The defense wasn't there tonight."
Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 25 points and was a blistering 11-for-11 from the free throw line. Ben Gordon, who burned the Celtics or 42 points in a playoff game back in 2009, hit a similar stride in the fourth quarter from long range and had 22 points. Greg Monroe continued his All-Star caliber play, finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds.
"I really thought it was a total team win," said Pistons head coach and former Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank. "There were so many things that went on throughout the game, we got great production from everybody who played."
A poor beginning doomed Boston, as Detroit jumped ahead by eight points, 10-2. Although they would recover and take the lead back at several points, they never fully recovered. Detroit used a 20-4 run to take control of the game in the third quarter, and the Celtics came out flat in the final frame. Rondo was even flat, scoring just four points in the fourth.
"The main thing is our record is 1-1 these last two games" Rondo said. "We didn't get off to a great start in the fourth quarter, and we weren't able to shut them off after that."
Rondo and the Celtics will have a chance to rebound against a tough team, the Chicago Bulls, on Thursday night. While past wins don't guarantee victories, Boston is coming off of a 95-91 win over Chicago on Sunday. Granted, the Bulls were without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose, but the Celtics definitely built some confidence after that win.