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No place like home as Celtics down Pistons

BOSTON - Not even a week of rest could prepare the Detroit Pistons for the hottest home team in the NBA.

BOSTON - Not even a week of rest could prepare the Detroit Pistons for the hottest home team in the NBA.

Kevin Garnett had 26 points and nine rebounds and Paul Pierce scored 22 points last night to lead Boston to an 88-79 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics' 15th straight home win.

Kendrick Perkins had 10 rebounds and Rajon Rondo added 11 points and seven assists for Boston, which earned home court through the playoffs with a league-best 66-16 regular-season record. The Celtics rode that advantage to seven-game series victories over Atlanta and Cleveland and held serve in the opener against Detroit.

Game 2 is in Boston tomorrow night.

Tayshaun Prince scored 16 points, and Antonio McDyess added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons.

Chauncey Billups, who missed most of the last three games of Detroit's Eastern Conference semifinal against Orlando because of a strained right hamstring, had nine points and two assists and went about 40 minutes between baskets.

Billups and the rest of the Pistons were able to rest the past week after they eliminated the Magic in five games to advance to the conference finals for the sixth straight year. They looked rusty early, missing their first five shots while allowing Boston to take an 8-0 lead on Ray Allen's drive with 8 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first.

Billups hit a second-chance three-pointer to end the drought and make it 8-3. But he did not make another field goal - he had four points and no assists in the first half - until there was 4:47 left in the game.

The Pistons quickly erased the first-quarter lead, even going ahead, 13-12. But they trailed by 41-40 at halftime and scored just 17 points in the third quarter, 10 from Richard Hamilton, while the Celtics took a 69-57 lead on Eddie House's three-pointer.

Hamilton, Detroit's leading scorer in the playoffs, had just three points in the first half and finished with 15.