NBA: Celtics rally from 21 down to hand Pistons 28th straight defeat, Wembanyama shines

AFP , Friday 29 Dec 2023

The Boston Celtics rallied from a 21-point deficit to hand the Detroit Pistons a record-equalling 28th straight NBA defeat 128-122 in overtime on Thursday.

San Antonio
San Antonio star rookie Victor Wembanyama reacts in the first quarter of the Spurs NBA victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. AFP


On a night when sensational San Antonio rookie Victor Wembanyama scored 30 points to lead the Spurs to a 118-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic was virtually perfect in a Denver Nuggets win, the Pistons were on the wrong side of history again.

The Pistons, already the first team to lose 27 straight games in a single season, are now the second team to lose 28 in a row -- joining the Philadelphia 76ers who had a 28-game skid spanning the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Kristaps Porzingis's dunk -- after Jayson Tatum grabbed the rebound of a miss by Detroit's Isaiah Livers -- effectively sealed it, putting Boston up 123-117 with 45.2 seconds left in overtime.

Boston escaped with their perfect home record intact at 15-0, improving their league-leading record to 24-6.

For a while, however, it looked like a desperate Detroit might take advantage of a Celtics squad expecting an easy win -- something Boston coach Joe Mazzulla had warned was a danger for his team.

"Each loss they're actually playing harder because they want to win," Mazzulla said. "It's going to happen."

The Pistons had 31 second-chance points and with Cade Cunningham scoring 22 of his 31 points in the first half led by as many as 21 on the way to a 66-47 lead at the break.

Cunningham added six rebounds and nine assists and Jaden Ivey scored 22 points with 10 rebounds. But 19 Detroit turnovers led to 27 Celtics points.

The Celtics out-scored the Pistons 35-16 in the third quarter to head into the fourth tied at 82-82.

Detroit twice took a four-point lead in the fourth. A Tatum layup followed by a Porzingis three-pointer put Boston up by six with 1:56 left in the fourth, but Bojan Bogdanovic's tip-in for Detroit tied it up at 108-108.

Porzingis scored 35 points and Tatum scored 31 with 10 assists for the Celtics, who were without injured Jaylen Brown.

'Spirit and integrity'

Once again, Pistons coach Monty Williams was full of praise for his players.

"They bring a spirit and integrity and toughness to the gym every single day," he said. "As bad as they hurt right now, I hurt for them."

In Portland, French prodigy Wembanyama scored 30 points with six rebounds, six assists and seven blocked shots -- and he did it all in less than 25 minutes on the floor.

Wembanyama joined former Spurs great David Robinson as the only rookies to put up such a stat line.

The Spurs led by as many as 28 in the first quarter and never trailed as they notched their fifth win of the season.

In Denver, Jokic connected on all 11 of his shots and all three of his free-throws on the way to a triple-double of 26 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the Nuggets' 142-105 victory over Memphis.

His 12th triple-double of the season saw him join Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to record a triple-double on 100 percent shooting in multiple games.

Elsewhere, Anthony Edwards scored 44 points to lead Western Conference leaders Minnesota in a 118-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, who were without stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Indiana's Tyrese Haliburton handed out 20 assists without a turnover and scored 21 points in the Pacers' 120-104 victory over the Bulls in Chicago.

The Miami Heat, missing star Jimmy Butler as well as Caleb Martin, Josh Richardson and Kyle Lowry, kicked off a five-game road trip with a 114-102 victory over the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.

Tyler Herro scored 26 points, Jamal Cain added 18 off the bench and Bam Adebayo and rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 17 apiece for the Heat.

Warriors star Stephen Curry was held without a basket until late in the second quarter. He and Klay Thompson scored 13 points each to lead Golden State.

In Los Angeles, Davis scored 26 points to fuel the Lakers' 133-112 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. LeBron James, two days shy of his 39th birthday, had 17 points and 11 assists.

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