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Celtics 98, Pistons 93

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BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics, fighting their way through an injury-filled season that included losing Rajon Rondo and rookie Jared Sullinger for the season, clinched a playoff spot Wednesday night with a 98-93 victory over the staggering Detroit Pistons.

The Boston win, along with the Philadelphia 76ers' loss at Charlotte, sends the Celtics back to the playoffs. Boston is currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Boston forward Jeff Green scored 13 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and had six rebounds and four blocked shots. Brandon Bass had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Paul Pierce 17 points and five assists for the Celtics (39-36).

Greg Monroe scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Rodney Stuckey had 22 points and Jonas Jerebko 19 points for the Pistons (25-51).

The Celtics, who also lost guard Leandro Barbosa for the season (before trading his rights to Washington), used a 10-0, second-quarter run to take the lead for good, but the game ultimately got interesting.

The Pistons, who played without late scratch Jose Calderon plus the injured Jason Maxiell and Will Bynum, scored the last 11 points of the third quarter to close to within seven.

After the Pistons scored the first three points of the fourth quarter to increase their run to 14-0, Green hit a big jumper for Boston's first points in almost five minutes. Big baskets by Pierce and Green (again) and costly turnovers by Detroit kept the Celtics ahead.

Green's flying slam put-back of a missed 3-pointer by Jason Terry gave Boston an 89-83 lead with 3:36 left. However, the Pistons then converted a four-point play that included a technical foul on the Boston bench. Green scored again with 2:56 left, but Jerebko hit a 3-pointer and the lead was again three with 2:28 remaining.

Jerebko then stole the ball from Pierce, but Brandon Knight blew a layup. Pierce missed and Stuckey was fouled, missing the second free throw, and Detroit's deficit was two. The Pistons had a chance to take the lead, but Charlie Villanueva (2-for-17 overall, 0-for-8 from 3-point range) missed a 3-pointer, and Green then hit one at the other end with 45.3 seconds left.

Monroe scored again and the Pistons had the ball back with 29.5 seconds left, trailing by three. Villanueva rattled a trey in and out, and Boston got the rebound. Terry hit two free throws with 9.9 seconds left to finally ice it.

Detroit was 4-for-24 from 3-point range and missed nine free throws, losing despite a 52-34 rebounding advantage. The Pistons had 25 offensive rebounds, while the Celtics finished with four.

NOTES: Calderon had 19 points and nine assists Monday night as the Pistons, 1-13 in March, beat Toronto, Calderon's old team. ... Boston coach Doc Rivers, asked about the return of Kevin Garnett, who is scheduled to miss two to four weeks with an ankle injury and already has been out seven games after missing Wednesday night, said, "I haven't even asked one question about it. I don't even know when two weeks is. It's probably coming up and he'll play." ... Rondo, gone for the year following knee surgery, joined his teammates at shootaround Wednesday. "It was great having him around," Rivers said. "He put on his brace, limped onto the floor and did what he did." ... Before the game, Detroit coach Lawrence Frank, asked to comment on a Yahoo! report that he could be in line to take the Rutgers job, said, "No. I'm the coach of the Pistons, I haven't heard from anyone. Next?" ... The Celtics opened a four-game homestand that continues with the Cleveland Cavaliers in town Friday night. The Pistons play the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday. ... The Celtics observed a moment of silence before the game for former NBA official Greg Willard, who died this week.
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