The lopsided score didn't impress Boston coach Chris Ford so much. It was the way the Celtics kept pouring it on.
The Celtics snapped a nine-game losing streak at Detroit, routing the Pistons 115-83 Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference playoff series."It wasn't the margin of victory that was important," Ford said. "That was just a number. I liked the fact that we stayed focused for 48 minutes and that everybody contributed and had a hand in the victory."
Reggie Lewis scored 21 points and Brian Shaw added 19 as the Celtics recorded their most lopsided playoff victory ever on the road. It topped the Celtics' 135-110 playoff win over Detroit in 1968.
"The reason why we win, and I've said this from day one, is that we definitely have more than the `Big Three' (Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale)," Ford said. "Larry is not the only guy we go to. Other guys contribute. Larry still gets his fair share of shots, but so does everybody else."
As it turned out, the Celtics could have won without anyone taking a shot in the fourth quarter. Boston led 90-62 after three periods.
"It's perfect," Lewis said. "If you ever want a dream game, this would be it. I am surprised the way Detroit shot."
The Pistons, who had shot only 39.2 percent in the first two games, were even worse in Game 3, hitting 33.3 percent from the field. Detroit also missed 19 of 36 free throws.
"We haven't shot well in the whole series, but I think Boston's defense has a lot to do with that," Detroit coach Chuck Daly said. "We played with a lot of intensity in Boston, but today it looked like somebody let the air out of the balloon. We went flat and just got tattooed."
The Celtics shot 53 percent and had a 58-50 rebounding edge. The biggest key was the play of Boston's guard rotation of Lewis, Brian Shaw and Dee Brown. They outscored the Pistons' rotation of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Vinnie Johnson 53-24. And the Celtics' bench outscored Detroit's reserves 45-37.
"Nothing is easy during the playoffs," said Detroit's John Salley, who scored eight of his 12 points in the first half. "You can usually tell during warmups. We were very relaxed tonight. If I could explain that, I'd probably win the Nobel Peace Prize."
James Edwards was Detroit's leading scorer with only 13 points.
The Celtics losing streak at Detroit included all eight games in The Palace since the Pistons moved there two years ago.
Although injured stars Bird and Thomas both played in Game 3, neither was much of a factor.
Bird, who has been suffering from a bad back, had 10 points and seven rebounds for Boston. Thomas, who has both a tender right ankle and sore right wrist, had seven points and four assists for Detroit.
"We just didn't have the fire, even before the game," Thomas said. "I was back in the lineup, but I really shouldn't have played. The body can't overcome all these injuries.
"I don't think the fire is going out. Some days you have it and some days you just don't."
Boston's defense held Detroit's shooting in check right from the start. In the first half, the Pistons hit only 34 percent from the field and missed eight of 15 free throws as the Celtics built a 54-41 lead.
The Pistons, seeking their third straight NBA title, made even fewer shots in the third period, hitting eight of 28 from the field (29 percent).
"The important thing to remember is is that we're really not that good and they're really not that bad," said McHale, who had 16 points and six rebounds. "We're somewhere in between. But it was a good game for us.
"A doubleheader would have been fine today. Monday will probably be a different story, but we'll enjoy today."