Celts Stake Claim as East's Best

Boston pulls away late to clinch playoff spot, gain ground over rival Detroit in 90-78 win
By Jesse Andrews,  Newser User
Posted Mar 5, 2008 10:10 PM CST
Detroit Pistons' Chauncey Billups, center, dribbles through the defense of Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo (9) and Kendrick Perkins during the first quarter of their NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday,...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – The Celtics became the first NBA team this season to clinch a playoff spot and gained a tiebreaker against their closest rivals—all in a 90-78 win over the Pistons. Detroit went down 17-3 early, clawed their way back to 78-77 after a Richard Hamilton three following a technical foul on the Celtics' Tony Allen, but then permitted a game-ending 12-1 run by Boston.

The win gives Boston a virtual five-game lead over Detroit in the hunt for playoff home-court advantage, and it was hard-earned; Allen was one of two Celtics to earn a technical foul, and their opponents had another. Kendrick Perkins set a personal mark with 20 rebounds, and Kevin Garnett led all scorers with 31 points. Chauncy Billups and Rasheed Wallace had 23 apiece for Detroit.