Thursday , Jan , 29 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Coaching change doesn’t help Celtics

Boston, MA (Sports Network) – Chauncey Billups and Mehmet Okur each scored 21
points to lead Detroit to a 106-103 win over Boston at the FleetCenter.

Richard Hamilton added 17 points for the Pistons, who made 15-of-16 free
throws in the fourth quarter to snap a three-game losing streak.

“[The Celtics] made it exciting,” Detroit coach Larry Brown said. “It’s a road
win and a big win.”

Paul Pierce scored 26 points for the for the Celtics, who suffered their
second straight loss in their first game under interim head coach John
Carroll. Carroll replaced Jim O’Brien, who resigned Tuesday.

Jiri Welsch added 19 points and Chris Mihm contributed 16 points, his career-
high with Boston.

Ben Wallace added 14 points and 15 rebounds for Detroit, which scored seven
straight points late in fourth quarter to overturn a three-point deficit.

A three-pointer from the left wing by Billups with 2:04 to go put the Pistons
ahead 95-93. Two foul shots from Wallace 30 seconds later put the team ahead
97-93.

Two free throws by Pierce with 1:26 to play brought the Celtics within 97-95.
But they never took a shot to force a tie or go ahead after a turnover by
Welsch on their ensuing possession.

Tayshaun Prince then hit a jumper to put the Pistons ahead 99-95 with 42.7
seconds remaining.

A three-pointer by Mike James brought Boston within 100-98 with 17.2 seconds
to go, but two free throws by Hamilton made it a two-possession game.

The Celtics pulled within 104-103 on a three-pointer by James with 8.4 seconds
to play. But Billups hit two free throws for Detroit for the final margin.

James took the final shot, a three-pointer from the right wing, but it bounced
off the rim as time expired.

“I think 103 points should be enough to win a basketball game,” Carroll said.
“That’s the sad part. And it’s the story of our season, to some extent.”

Boston controlled the initial quarter, taking an 11-1 lead in a three-pointer
by Welsch.

A three-pointer by Billups midway through the quarter got Detroit within
17-12. However, the Celtics stretch their lead to 28-18 on a free throw by
Walter McCarty with 1:22 left in the first.

The Pistons then scored the final four points of the first to get within
28-22.

Early in the second quarter, a jumper by Bob Sura pulled Detroit within 31-28.
But Boston regained a 37-29 edge on a dunk by Mihm with 7:12 to go in the
quarter.

Down 44-37, the Pistons ended the second on a 12-3 run. Six straight points
by Okur helped them take a 49-47 at halftime.

Mihm scored a 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field for the Celtics in
the initial 24 minutes, while Okur posted 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting from
the field for Detroit.

Detroit opened the third quarter on a 19-7 run. Five straight points by
Billups, including his three-pointer with 6:05 left in the third, staked the
team to a 68-54 edge.

Boston, which pulled within 75-70 at the end of the third, cut its deficit to
75-73 just 37 seconds into the fourth quarter on a three-point play by Pierce.

A jumper by Wallace with 8:01 remaining staked the Pistons to an 86-80 edge.
However, a 13-4 run put Boston ahead 93-90. Two foul shots by Welsch with 2:56
remaining capped a six-point flurry.

BOS DET