BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Celtics have not played as well as they would have expected this season.

They hope that the games they have organized over the past six weeks are a sign of better things to come after the break from the stars.

Jayson Tatum scored 19 points and Gordon Hayward finished with 18 points to help the Celtics resist the Detroit Pistons 118-110 on Wednesday night.

Hayward added eight assists and five rebounds on his first start since Dec. 21. Al Horford finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. Jaylen Brown had 17 points and seven rebounds.

The Celtics have won seven of the last nine games. The defeat ended the series of four consecutive victories of the Pistons.

Coach Brad Stevens said he enjoyed the way his team had ruined everything after a close win against the 76ers on Tuesday.

"It was a good two days for this group," said Stevens. "I thought it showed a lot of character and I hope we can enjoy the rest."

After an 11-point lead in the first half, Boston beat Detroit 34-20 in the third quarter and led by 28 in the fourth quarter.

Kyrie Irving, of the Celtics' star team, sat for the second consecutive game with a contracted right knee. Terry Rozier was also dismissed due to illness.

Stevens adapted to their absences by creating Smart and Tatum in the background, completing his training with Hayward, Horford and Marcus Morris.

That was another good performance for Hayward, who has now scored 15 points or more in four of his last five games. He has played only 10 games of this type in his first 48 games this season. In his last five outings, Hayward averaged 17 points out of 61 percent (9 out of 18 on 3 points), 5.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

"It was the way we finished the break," said Hayward. "It definitely creates momentum."

Blake Griffin led Detroit with 32 points and eight rebounds. André Drummond added 21 points and 17 rebounds.

Despite the loss, Drummond also said he was encouraged.

"Last week, a week and a half, I think we really played basketball," he said. "We set ourselves the goal of being 5-2 and we succeeded with that. … You have a week off, take a break, come back and go for the races from there. "

TIP-INS

Pistons: Only 5 out of 19 from the field (26%) and 2 out of 9 (22%) from the 3 points in the third quarter.

Celtics: Improved to 9-2 this season without Irving. . Rookie Robert Williams (illness) was also sitting with Aron Baynes (left foot contusion). . Smart's 3-point pointer at the beginning of the third quarter ended his collapse from 0 to 20 from the back.

& # 39; GOOD ACTOR & # 39;

Horford and Griffin came into contact to try a free pass near the sideline late in the fourth quarter. Following a video watch by officials, Horford was called for a flagrant foul. Asked about the game after the match, Horford rolled his eyes and smiled.

"Blake is an excellent actor," Horford said. "I was going to the ball and he sold it well. So, yes, I do not think it's a blatant mistake. "

Time of execution

The Celtics were powered up early, taking an 8-0 lead. But Detroit denied the situation by replying with a 24-5 run to take advantage, with Boston relying heavily on jumping shots and suffering nearly five minutes of drought.

The Celtics calmed down and ended the opening period with a 15-5 record. Boston controlled the pace in the second quarter and led 57-52 at the half.

IRVING UPDATE

Stevens said Irving's status was officially "daily," but he could theoretically be allowed to play if the Celtics had a match scheduled for Friday or Saturday. In regards to Irving's availability for the All-Star Game, Stevens said he should only dress if his knee was in perfect health.

"If there was no problem and it was not 110%, I would not play," Stevens said.

FOLLOWING

The Pistons play on February 22 in Atlanta.

The Celtics are back in action on Feb. 21, starting their three-game trek in Milwaukee.

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower