(The Sports Xchange) – Isaiah Thomas performed more of his fourth-quarter magic and the Boston Celtics blew an 11-point lead but held off the Detroit Pistons 113-109 for the their fourth straight victory on Wednesday night.
Thomas, who entered the game averaging a league-best and record-pace 10.0 points per game in the fourth quarter, scored 24 of his 41 points in the final 12 minutes.
He scored on a three-point play to put the Celtics (30-18) ahead to stay with 4:13 left in the game. Earlier in the quarter, Boston’s little big man scored 11 straight Celtics points.
It was his 32nd straight game with at least 20 points as he closes in on John Havlicek’s club record of 40. He has scored under 20 just once this season and had 18 in that game.
He has scored at least 20 points in the fourth quarter four times this season; while no one else in the league has done it more than once. He has also had nine 15-point fourth quarters.
After Reggie Jackson missed on his second straight late drive attempt, Thomas put the game on ice with four free throws in the closing seconds.
The win moved the Celtics a game ahead of the idle Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic lead, keeping Brad Stevens’ chance of coaching the East All-Stars very much alive.
Boston has three more home games this week, starting with the Raptors on Wednesday night.
Thomas’ latest heroics overcame an outstanding effort by Detroit big man Andre Drummond, who had a season high-tying 28 points and 22 rebounds. He has 45 points and 42 rebounds in the last two games, both losses.
Jae Crowder had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics.
Al Horford, back after missing two games with a groin pull, scored 13 points and added six rebounds and six assists and Marcus Smart had 13 points, eight assists and five rebounds off the bench.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 18 points, Tobias Harris 15, Marcus Morris 13 and Jackson 12 for the Pistons (21-26).
Detroit, which lost its third straight, hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter but was just 3-for-27 for the game from behind the arc.
The Pistons grabbed a six-point lead with 2:38 left in the first quarter but a 9-2 run put the Celtics ahead by one at the end of 12 minutes. The game was tied at 32 when the Celtics ran off eight straight points and a Horford 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left in the restored their eight-point lead.
The lead grew to 11 3:49 into the third quarter and was at nine entering the fourth.