The Detroit Pistons knew they had been playing well enough to win. On Wednesday night, they finally did it.
"At least we won't go 0-82," coach Alvin Gentry joked after a strong fourth quarter gave the Pistons a 110-92 win over the Boston Celtics.
All four losses the Pistons worst start since going 0-7 in 1980-81 were against playoff teams from last year and three were on the road. And they came in a span of five days. Now, after three days without a game, the Pistons, who opened last season with three straight wins, have their first victory.
"It feels good," said Grant Hill, who had 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. "We had been playing well, just not well enough to win."
"They played like hungry dogs," Boston coach Rick Pitino said.
Stackhouse led Detroit with 30 points, nine of them in the fourth quarter. Williams finished with 20 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, including 11 points and eight rebounds in the final period.
The Celtics, who lost all three meetings with Detroit last season, were led by Paul Pierce with 26 points and Antoine Walker with 18. Point guard Kenny Anderson got a hip pointer early in the second quarter and was limited to 11 minutes.
"Losing Kenny kind of killed our offense," Walker said. "He penetrates and gets our offense going."
Andersosaid he wasn't sure if he could play Friday night against the New York Knicks.
The Celtics had 21 turnovers and 19 assists, while the Pistons had only 14 turnovers and 26 assists.
"I can give you statistical reasons, but tonight we just got outplayed," Pitino said.
Stackhouse's basket to start the fourth quarter sparked a 14-6 surge that put the Pistons ahead 88-80 on Michael Curry's 18-footer with 7:12 to go. Pierce followed with two free throws for the Celtics, but that six-point deficit was as close as they came.
"When we got off to a good start in that period there was a sense of urgency because they were right there with us," Stackhouse said. "Overall, we're all right."
For the second straight game, they wasted a big lead, but this time the Pistons won.
"We knew they would come in hungry," Pierce said. "Maybe they wanted this one more than we did."
On Saturday night, the Pistons led 83-66 but lost 121-111 to Milwaukee. On Wednesday, they let the Celtics come back from a 61-50 deficit in the third quarter and tie the game 74-74 going into the fourth.
But in that period, Stackhouse and Adrian Griffin traded baskets before Hill's layup put Detroit ahead to stay 78-76. Curry hit two straight baskets for a six-point lead. Boston's Vitaly Potapenko followed with a layup, but Detroit got the next four points on a dunk by Hill and a layup by Williams, making it 86-78.
With the score 93-84, the Pistons finished off the Celtics with a 17-6 run led by Williams' seven points.
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