By DAVE HOGG – Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — This time, the rising Boston Celtics surpassed the Detroit Pistons.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum led the way.
Brown scored 27 points and Tatum had 26 points and 11 rebounds, leading Boston to a 113-104 win over Detroit on Saturday.
The Celtics won for the 11th time in 12 games. The only blemish in their recent surge came in a 112-111 home loss to Detroit on February 16.
“These guys always give us their best,” Brown said. “We know we have to give them credit but we felt we could play better and we did that in the third and fourth quarters tonight.”
On Saturday, Boston was able to take advantage of Cade Cunningham’s nasty difficulties.
“This is a young man straight out of college and we have to blitz him to get the ball out of his hands,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “He’s learned so much at this level that you want someone else to beat you.”
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Cunningham led Detroit with 25 points in 27 minutes, but no one else came close to 20 points.
“Cade’s a young man and he’s going to learn that we need him on the floor,” said Pistons coach Dwane Casey. “We need his offense and we need his style of play. We don’t need him with the coaches on the bench.”
Payton Pritchard led Boston’s second session with 19 points and Grant Williams added 13.
“I feel really good about finding a role where I can help this team win,” said Pritchard. “It was a frustrating season at times, but things are going well now.”
The Pistons lost guard Hamadou Diallo at 6:29 in the second quarter after he was ejected for bumping official Suyash Mehta when they nearly collided during the transition. Diallo averaged 15.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in his last eight games.
“The official said they thought Hami was upset about the previous game and hit him,” Casey said. “I’m not a mind reader but I figured he was just playing at 100mph and they got tangled.”
With Diallo gone, Casey was forced to stay with Cunningham after committing his fourth foul early in the third.
Cunningham, who played just nine minutes in the first half, had eight points in eleven minutes of the third quarter without conceding his fifth foul. That was enough to lead Detroit into fourth place 82-78, but the Celtics quickly reclaimed the lead while Cunningham was on the bench.
“We knew we hadn’t played our best game in the first three quarters and we knew this team could play well enough to beat us,” said Udoka. “We had 12 minutes to swallow it and win the game and I thought we played one of our best defensive quarters of the season.”
After Cunningham’s fifth foul, Brown hit two 3-pointers to put Boston at 100-90 and force Casey into a timeout at 5-10.
“When he got the fifth, he was really rolling, and we wanted to play and keep him out there,” Casey said. “But there were eight minutes left and we didn’t want to lose him that early. They just opened it up before we could get him out of there.”
The Pistons couldn’t put together enough stops on the track to get back in the game.
“We knew we could win the game but I thought I hurt us because we had to get out of the game so many times,” Cunningham said.
Celtics: Williams persuaded Udoka to review a foul in the third quarter and it was nullified by a retest. … Boston outplayed Detroit 35-22 in the fourth quarter.
Pistons: The game started at 12 p.m. to give the Little Caesars Arena crew time to rebuild the arena for a 7:30 p.m. game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs… Marvin Bagley III left the game in the fourth quarter with an unknown Injury.
Celtics: Visit the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
Pistons: Visit the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.
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