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Billups, Pistons hand Celtics 15th straight loss

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows that his team would struggle to beat anyone in the NBA at the moment.

Trying to beat the Detroit Pistons with newly acquired Chris Webber was nearly impossible.

The Boston Celtics have lost a franchise-worst 15 games in a row and 21 of their last 23. The good news? The NBA's all-time worst losing streak is still nine games from being touched. Here are the league's top losing streaks:

Streak

Team

Season

*24

Cavaliers

March 1982-
November 1982

23

Grizzlies

February 1996-
April 1996

23

Nuggets

December 1997-January 1998

*21

Pistons

March 1980-
October 1980

*-- streak spanned two seasons

The bad news? Six of the Celtics' next nine games are on the road, including a brutal five-game western swing. Six of those games are back-to-back. Their next nine opponents have a cumulative winning percentage of .549. Here are their record heading into Tuesday night:

Opp.

Date

Opp. W-L

Heat

Feb. 7

23-25

Nets

Feb. 9

22-27

@ Wolves

Feb. 11

22-26

Bucks

Feb. 14

18-30

@ Kings

Feb. 20

20-26

@ Suns

Feb. 21

38-10

@ Lakers

Feb. 23

32-17

@ Jazz

Feb. 24

32-17

@ Rockets

Feb. 26

30-17

Webber had 17 points and six assists as the Pistons put on a passing clinic for three quarters while handing the Celtics their 15th straight loss, 109-102 on Tuesday night.

"We really didn't have a chance," Rivers said. "We played a better team tonight. They had some matchup advantages, and they went right at us. The problem is that, with Webber in the middle, there's not much you can do. He might be their best passer."

Antonio McDyess finished with 18 points in 20 minutes, hitting his first eight shots before Kendrick Perkins blocked the ninth.

"I got some easy baskets early and I just kept going," he said. "He didn't foul me on the ninth one, either. That was a good block."

McDyess and Webber combined to shoot 17-for-22 against Boston's overmatched interior defense.

"We just couldn't stop anything in the post," said Wally Szczerbiak. "When we didn't double, they got a layup. When we did double, someone cut to the basket, they made a pass and they still got a layup."

Pistons coach Flip Saunders was only disappointed by the fourth quarter, which saw the Celtics rally from a 24-point deficit to make the final score respectable.

"Your main guys should have the opportunity to sit down and ice in the fourth quarter of a game like that," he said. "We had to bring those guys back with five minutes left to make sure we won the thing."

Rivers, though, wasn't impressed.

"I'm not going to put a lot of stock in that," he said. "I'm not sure how much the other team was still competing at that point."

The Celtics, who extended the worst losing streak in franchise history, haven't won since a 128-119 victory in Memphis on Jan. 5. They have allowed at least 100 points in five straight games.

"We did what we were supposed to do," said Chauncey Billups. "That team is obviously struggling, and we jumped on them. They kept fighting, but we won the game."

Boston also had to send forward Paul Pierce home with an infected left elbow. Pierce, who has missed Boston's last 23 games with a foot injury, is expected to be hospitalized for at least two days, which will push his possible return back past the All-Star break.

Billups led Detroit with 24 points, while Richard Hamilton had 10 points and a season-high 11 assists.

"That was surprising, given the way Rip usually chases shots," McDyess joked as Hamilton got dressed in the adjoining locker. "He actually throws a nice pass."

Ryan Gomes led Boston with 19 points, despite only playing four minutes in the second half.

Boston kept the game close for a quarter, only trailing 25-20 after the first, but were unable to slow down Detroit's offense.

The Pistons shot 72.2 percent in the second, led by 10 points from McDyess, and took a 56-40 lead into the intermission.

"The bench really put us in a hole in the second quarter -- it was a five-point game when they went in there," Rivers said. "This isn't fun. These guys want to win a game, and I need to find a way to make that happen."

Game notes
The Pistons have won seven straight over Boston and are 12-1 against their former archrivals in the last four seasons. ... The Celtics are 2-21 since Pierce's injury. ... Pierce still leads the Celtics in points scored despite missing almost half of the season. ... Billups hit his 700th 3-pointer for the Pistons during the first quarter. He trails current team president Joe Dumars and teammate Lindsey Hunter on the franchise career list.