Jermaine O’Neal in his strongest game in a Boston Celtics uniform scored a team high 19 points and helped the Celtics to their first victory of the campaign as they defeated the Detroit Pistons at the “New Garden” Friday night 96-85. Boston with All-Star forward Paul Pierce back in the lineup after recovering from a bruised right heel shot 52.2% (35-67) from the field for the contest. Pistons center Greg Monroe shot a game high 22 points for the night, but it would not be enough to get his team their first win of the young season. The Celtics would take the contest over in the third and Detroit could never recover.
The two opponents stood toe to toe in the opening period as the contest remained close throughout. Forward Brandon Bass connected on a mid-range jumper with 54 seconds to play giving Boston the slight lead at 24-22 as the quarter came to an end. Celtics would stretch their lead to double-digits in the second as Pierce hit a shot with 5:46 left in the period putting his team on top 40-8. The Pistons would rally near the end of the quarter and had cut their deficit by the half as Boston held a 50-43 advantage.
If Detroit had any hopes of making a comeback they would be quickly dashed in the third as the Celtics just dominated the period from beginning to end. When the smoke had cleared at the end of the quarter, Boston led 86-64. Although the home team scored just ten points in the final 12 minutes; their lead would never be threatened and the Celtics fans watched their club get their first win of the season.
O’Neal knocked down 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and an assist while Ray Allen added 17 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound and 1 steal. Bass came off the bench with 17 points and 3 rebounds while Pierce in his first game of the campaign scored 12 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal.
Greg Monroe had a very strong performance with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals while Austin Daye came off the bench with 11 points and five rebounds. Tayshaun Prince, Brandon Knight and Jonas Jerebko all scored 10 points in the loss for Detroit. Celtics with a record of 1-3 will play again on Sunday as they travel to Washington to face the Wizards while the Pistons take on the Indiana Pacers at the Palace on Saturday.