Pistons 91, Celtics 89
“It’s postseason time, playoff time,” Murray said. “Everything is geared toward the playoffs now. Every game is like starting off from Game 1.”
Murray hit the winning shot just before the buzzer and Amir Johnson set career highs with 20 points and 12 rebounds, leading the Pistons to a 91-89 win over the Boston Celtics in the season finale for both teams on Wednesday night.
After Rajon Rondo tied it at 89 with two free throws with 3.9 seconds left, Murray took the inbound pass, dribbled toward the free-throw line and nailed an 18-foot jumper with 0.1 seconds left.
Afterward, the Pistons retreated to their locker room to check scores and their playoff fate. When it was determined Detroit will face Orlando in the first round, the locker room emptied.
“It’s more excitement than relief,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said.
Rondo and Ryan Gomes led Boston with 19 apiece. Allan Ray scored 18 and Al Jefferson added 17 for the Celtics, who lost eight of nine to finish with the worst record in the Eastern Conference and second worst in the NBA.
“The only good thing about this season being over is that I’ll count down the days until training camp,” Jefferson said. “I’ll just count down the days, get the playoffs over with, the summer league over with and get right back up here and get ready.”
Boston went 24-58, its losingest record since going a franchise-worst 15-67 in 1996-97.
The Celtics led for much of the fourth quarter, but never again after Ronald Dupree’s jumper put Detroit up 84-83 with 3:11 left.
“You know, fitting end,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “That’s how the season has gone.”
Playing without three starters, Detroit got 57 points from reserves to sweep the season series with the Celtics for the second straight year. The Pistons have won eight in a row over Boston overall.
Since clinching the top seed in the East on April 11, Detroit has played its starters sparingly while going 2-2.
In the final tuneup before the playoffs begin this weekend, the Pistons played without Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups and Chris Webber. Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince were in the lineup, but didn’t play after the first quarter and combined for only five points.
McDyess played only seven minutes in the first half before joining the starters on the bench.
Johnson, a second-year forward who spent much of the past two years in the NBDL, took advantage of rare playing time, shooting 10-of-14 and blocking four shots.
Johnson’s 10 third-quarter points helped Detroit outscore Boston 24-18 and erase a 49-45 halftime deficit.
“He’s spectacular,” Saunders said. “He does things that you can’t teach. That’s why at 20 years old, he has such a huge upside.”
The Celtics used their 25th different starting lineup after using 18 last year and 12 in 2004-05. … Boston G Delonte West suited up but didn’t play with two stretched ligaments in his left hand. … The Pistons, who beat Toronto 100-84 Tuesday, played a league-high 22 sets of back-to-back games. … Prince has played in all 82 regular-season games for three straight seasons. … Detroit won its 27th road game to tie a franchise record.