Boston 113, Detroit 109
When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, January 30, 2017
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass
BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Isaiah Thomas continues to pile up insane numbers and also continues to have his name mentioned with other Celtics stars. Wednesday night, Boston’s little big man had another fourth-quarter explosion, scoring 24 of his 41 points and leading the Celtics to a 113-109 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night — their fourth straight victory. His latest eruption left him just one point shy of joining Larry Bird (February, 1988, 33.1) and Paul Pierce (February, 2006, 33.5) as the only Celtics to average 33 points for an entire month.
“People were saying that to me throughout the day, so I saw that,” Thomas said after the game. “I was close but I wasn’t trying. I was just trying to do what my team needed me to do.”
Asked about being in the same neighborhood as Bird and Pierce, Thomas said, “That doesn’t even seem real. It doesn’t sound real. So many great players did it before me. To have my name up there with those legends is unbelievable.
“Just keep going, keep trying to catch those guys and keep winning.”
The Celtics (30-18) blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead but Thomas caught fire and took over, finishing the month at 32.9 points per game. After a slow shooting start, he ended up 11-for-23 from the floor, nailed three of his last four 3-pointers after a 1-for-7 start and went 15-for-15 from the foul line.
Thomas, who entered the game averaging a league-best and record-pace 10.0 points per game in the fourth quarter, scored on a three-point play to put the Celtics ahead to stay with 4:13 left in the game. Earlier in the quarter, he scored 11 straight Celtics points.
It was his 32nd straight game with at least 20 points as he closes in on John Havlicek’s club record of 40. He has scored under 20 just once this season and had 18 in that game. He has scored at least 20 points in the fourth quarter four times this season; while no one else in the league has done it more than once. He has also had a league-high nine 15-point fourth quarters.
In the last 11 home games, Thomas, now averaging 29.1 points per game, second only to Russell Westbrook’s 30.8, has 396 points in 395 minutes.
After Reggie Jackson missed on his second straight late drive attempt, Thomas put the game on ice with four free throws in the closing seconds.
The win moved the Celtics a game ahead of the idle Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic lead, keeping Brad Stevens’ chance of coaching the East All-Stars very much alive. Boston has three more home games this week, starting with the Raptors on Wednesday night.
Thomas’ latest heroics overcame an outstanding effort by Detroit big man Andre Drummond, who had a season high-tying 28 points and 22 rebounds. He has 45 points and 42 rebounds in the last two games, both losses. In the three games against the Celtics this season, he’s had 68 points and 56 rebounds.
Jae Crowder had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics. Al Horford, back after missing two games with a groin pull, scored 13 points and added six rebounds and six assists and Marcus Smart had 13 points, eight assists and five rebounds off the bench.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 18 points, Tobias Harris 15, Marcus Morris 13 and Jackson 12 for the Pistons (21-26).
“The only person I’m upset with right now is myself,” said Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy. “You’ve got to do a better job than what I did tonight in the fourth quarter. I’m upset at myself, but I was happy with our guys. I thought they fought really, really hard.
“No disrespect to the rest of their team, but I should have sent three guys at (Thomas).”
Said Jackson: “He’s crafty. Very crafty.”
Detroit, which lost its third straight, hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter but was just 3-for-27 for the game from behind the arc — while scoring 60 points in the paint.
NOTES: Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy clearly isn’t thrilled with President Trump’s travel ban. “It’s starting to get into really, really scary stuff now,” he said Monday morning, calling the move “fear-mongering” that evokes memories of the Japanese internment camps of World War II and “Hitler registering the Jews.” … With C Al Horford back, Boston was still missing G Avery Bradley (Achilles), with coach Brad Stevens saying he is progressing and could start practicing soon. Bradley spent pregame time holding a video conference with soldiers in Kuwait and Boston season ticket holders donated 1,600 tickets to military personnel — the night complete with a soldier surprising his family with a return from active duty. … Former Celtics great Kevin McHale was in the building working the game for TNT — and got a huge ovation when shown on the big board. … The Pistons host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.