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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Your mom and grandma's favorite Celtic helps the team wake up and beat the Pistons

As they sleepwalked through a meaningless game vs. the Detroit Pistons last night at the TD Garden, it was obvious that the Boston Celtics needed a spark.

38-year-old Shaquille O'Neal was the unlikely force behind a strong fourth quarter (28-21) to help the Celts overcome an eight-point deficit and win 86-82.

Kevin Garnett (11 points, 6 rebounds) looked like the rusty player who just came back from an injury, the expected letdown after his performance on Monday vs. the Orlando Magic-a much bigger game against a fellow contender.

Paul Pierce (game-high 22 points) was the only Celtic (32-9) that really seemed to be focused that is until Shaq carried the team on his broad shoulders in the fourth quarter.

I'll admit that when Boston picked up Shaq in the off-season, I figured it was nothing more than a heady PR move but I've been pleasantly surprised. When he plays (a big if), he has been unselfish and brought some inside presence that they've desperately needed with Kendrick Perkins, Jermaine O'Neal and KG out at various times.

Last night was Shaq's best game for the Celts. He was diving on the court for loose balls, blocking shots (2), stealing the ball (3) and posting a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Ray Allen was held to seven points although as he usually does, he made a dagger long 2-pointer that was the biggest shot of the game. Rajon Rondo was also limited to six points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Glen Davis had 11 points and six rebounds for the bench which was short-handed after Marquis Daniels left in the second quarter with a sprained ankle.

Detroit (15-27) came in on a three-game winning streak but let's be honest: they're a complete mess. Richard Hamilton is due to be traded but right now he's rotting on the bench and getting DNPs.

Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 15 points, Greg Monroe (9 rebounds) and Tayshaun Prince added 13 points apiece, Charlie Villanueva had 11 points and Ben Gordon notched 10 points.

Try not to fall asleep as I describe this borefest. The teams were tied at 22 after one quarter and Detroit was up 45-42 at halftime. Both only managed 16 points in an ugly third quarter before the Cs finally decided to play for a few minutes in the fourth.

Boston shot 44.7% to Detroit's 41.9%. They each hit four 3-pointers and the Pistons made two more free throws (16-14). The Celts pulled down 13 more rebounds (47-34) while the Pistons had four more steals (9-5), one more block (6-5) and four less turnovers (17-13). Detroit had three more fast break points (12-9) but thanks to Shaq, the Celts had eight more points in the paint (50-42).

Things figure to get much more interesting and exciting tomorrow night as the Utah Jazz visit the Garden. Former Celtics young gun Al Jefferson has finally found a good team to play on and point guard Deron Williams is arguably the best in the NBA. Should be a good one, wish I was going!

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