BOSTON — As one of the NBA’s top defensive teams this season, the Boston Celtics have inevitably found themselves with some big leads.

They’re still mastering how to play with those cushions.

Isaiah Thomas had 17 points and seven assists Wednesday night to help Boston hold off the Detroit Pistons, 102-95.

Detroit fell behind by as many as 24 in the third quarter before cutting the deficit to seven, but the Celtics strung together enough late baskets to preserve the win.

Avery Bradley added 15 points for Boston, which has won six straight home games and 7 of 8 overall.

“It’s hard to play up,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said. “You play a little bit more free when you’re down. But we need to play well all the time.”

Reggie Jackson led the Pistons with 17 points. Andre Drummond added 16 points and 13 rebounds.

The Pistons came back despite playing the second half without guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who left with a right groin strain after he appeared to slip on a wet spot on the court late in the second quarter.

Detroit Coach Stan Van Gundy said Caldwell-Pope will have an MRI on Thursday but will “almost certainly be out” against New York.

As for the game, Van Gundy said his team never recovered from its slow start.

“We weren’t ready to play at the beginning. They were right into us,” he said. “We didn’t handle their pressure well at all. Their defense took us out of everything. They did a great job and we didn’t respond to it.”

The Celtics took advantage of the Pistons’ poor shooting and took a 20-point lead into halftime.

All 10 Celtics who played in the first half scored, including 21 points from the bench.

Reserve Evan Turner, who finished with 14 points for Boston, said his team’s lull in the second half can be attributed to the length of the game. It was extended thanks to 42 fouls.

“We just tried to execute down the stretch,” Turner said. “Keep our poise. We thought after a while the whistles stopped blowing a little bit.

“But we just tried to battle back and weather the storm. Fortunately enough, we did,” he said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.