Detroit (29-16) at Boston (22-24)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Wed Jan 28, 2004
  • TV: FSD, FSNE
Preview | Box Score | Recap

All the moves Danny Ainge made apparently did not sit well with Jim O’Brien.

So O’Brien decided to make a sudden change on Ainge.

In their first game since O’Brien abruptly quit, the Boston Celtics head into an era of uncertainty as they face the Detroit Pistons.

O’Brien resigned Tuesday with Boston off to a disappointing start, two games under .500 after making the playoffs the last two seasons. Assistant coach John Carroll will take over on an interim basis.

“Jim came in to talk with me this morning about some philosophical differences that we had,” Ainge said.

“Jim offered his resignation and we accepted it.”

Since Ainge took over as team president during last season’s playoffs, the Celtics have undergone many personnel changes. The biggest of those moves were the preseason trade of Antoine Walker to Dallas, and the shipping of Eric Williams and Tony Battie to Cleveland on Dec. 15.

The first deal took away Boston’s second scoring option to All-Star guard Paul Pierce. The second took away two veteran leaders and keys to O’Brien’s defense-oriented approach.

“Jim did not see that long-term vision that I saw,” Ainge said.

O’Brien, who was given a two-year contract extension through the 2005-06 season by Ainge, became Celtics coach when Rick Pitino resigned in January 2001. He took Boston to the Eastern Conference finals in 2002 and the conference semifinals in 2003.

Carroll, who had been in his seventh season as a Celtics assistant, takes over a team that has lost six of eight, including Sunday’s 110-91 loss to New Jersey.

The Celtics had a chance to move into a tie with the Nets for the Atlantic Division lead and climb back to .500, but played a flat and uninspired game. Boston shot just 36 percent from the field, was outscored 50-34 in the paint and outrebounded 55-32.

“It was like we went into the game expecting to lose,” said Pierce, who scored 13 points on 3-of-15 shooting. “We had a chance to play for first place and the sense of urgency wasn’t there.”

The Pistons have not shown much urgency lately.

Since winning 13 in a row, Detroit has lost three straight, including a 91-82 home loss to lowly Atlanta on Sunday.

It was the Pistons’ first defeat at home since an 82-79 loss to New Jersey on Dec. 26.

Guard Chauncey Billups worried the Pistons could slip back into the habits that led to a 2-7 skid in December.

“We came out really lackadaisical and never really picked it up,” said Billups, who was 1-of-9 from the field. “This reminds me of what we were doing a month-and-a-half ago, and we can’t go back to playing that way. This needs to end now.”

STANDINGS (through Jan. 26): Pistons - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, Central Division. Celtics - 2nd place, 2 GB, Atlantic Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Pistons - F Tayshaun Prince, F Ben Wallace, C Mehmet Okur, G Richard Hamilton, G Billups. Celtics - F Walter McCarty, F Jiri Welsch, C Mark Blount, G Mike James, G Pierce.

TEAM LEADERS: Pistons - Hamilton, 18.0 ppg; Wallace, 13.0 rpg; Billups, 5.3 apg. Celtics - Pierce, 23.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 5.5 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Pistons, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 5; Pistons, 78-68. At Boston, Prince scored seven of his 13 points during a key 11-0 run in the fourth quarter and the Pistons limited Boston to a season-low point total and a season-worst 29.3 percent from the field.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pistons - 11-10 on the road; Celtics - 11-13 at home.

INJURIES: Pistons - F Tremaine Fowlkes (back); G Hubert Davis (thumb); G Lindsey Hunter (knee). Celtics - F Raef LaFrentz (knee); F Chris Mills (heel); C Chris Mihm (hamstring).

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