BOSTON (Sports Network)—Kevin Garnett poured in 23 points and eight rebounds while Paul Pierce donated 22 points in Boston's 101-90 win over Detroit.
Sitting as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference standings with six games left, Boston remains a half-game game behind second place Miami, which also won on Sunday against New Jersey.
Ray Allen had 13 points while Rajon Rondo scored just four points but dished out 14 assists for the Celtics, who are coming off a split of a four-game road trip.
Boston also briefly returned big man Shaquille O'Neal, who had not played since February 1 because of a strained left Achilles's tendon. However after tallying six points in 5 1/2 minutes, he came up lame while jogging down the court and did not return because of a right calf strain.
"Had nothing to do with the Achilles; it's a calf strain. It's not a bad strain, but it's a strain," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, who did not give an update on O'Neal's return.
Will Bynum posted 20 points while Tayshaun Prince notched 16 points for the Pistons, who have dropped 10 consecutive game as the visitor. Rodney Stuckey did not play at all.
Boston took over in the third quarter, using a 13-0 run to push the lead to 80-64. Pierce started the burst with a three-pointer and a dunk, while Garnett capped it off with a thunderous dunk.
Greg Monroe finally broke the Pistons' scoring drought following Garnett's dunk, while Delonte West buried a fade away shot with 18.2 seconds to give Boston an 82-66 lead into the fourth.
The Pistons cut the lead to nine three times in the final quarter, but never got any closer.
"It's a game of spurts and they're a veteran team that understands how to finish games," Pistons head coach John Kuester said.
Prince had 13 first-quarter points to give the Pistons a 29-26 lead after 12 minutes of play. Boston grabbed the lead early in the second, 30-29, on Jermaine O'Neal's layup.
The Celtics extended the edge to as much as 10 during the second, but held just a one-point lead, 49-48, at the half.