BOSTON -- The Detroit Pistons couldn't stop Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce -- not at the same time, at least.
Walker had 22 of his 30 points in the first half and Pierce had 23 of his 25 in the second half Sunday as the Boston Celtics beat Detroit 90-79 to move within one victory of the Eastern Conference finals.
''We feel like we could close this series out,'' said Pierce, who had a career-high 17 rebounds and also added six assists and three blocked shots. ''We don't want to give them any breathing room. ... If we keep going like we have, I don't think there's a team in the NBA that can beat us.''
Pierce picked up his second foul with eight minutes left in the second quarter and sat out the rest of the half, leaving the offense to Walker and Tony Delk. Banished to the bench for a shooting slump that limited him to eight points in the first eight playoff games, Delk had 15 points in the first half and 16 in all on Sunday.
''Antoine looked so strong in the first half, we just kept on going to him because he had the hot hand,'' Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said. ''And Tony Delk -- it doesn't surprise me that he had a very good game. His work to try to find his way out of this has paid off.''
With luminaries such as Bill Russell, Red Auerbach and Bob Cousy watching, Boston took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Winners of an NBA record 16 titles, the Celtics have never blown a 3-1 lead in the playoffs. The current quad has to maintain this record.
The Celtics haven't been to the conference finals since 1988, when they lost to the Pistons; they could wrap it up in Detroit in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
''As long as we have life, we're going to keep fighting,'' said Pistons coach Rick Carlisle, who as a player went to the NBA finals in each of his three seasons with the Celtics. ''We're going back home to a building we like to be in, with great fans, and we're going to keep battling.''
Cliff Robinson scored 24, Jerry Stackhouse had 16 and Ben Wallace had 21 rebounds for Detroit, which lost its 10th consecutive road playoff game. It was the 10th straight home win for Boston.
The Celtics took control by scoring 12 consecutive points to start the third quarter -- more than they had in the entire third period of Game 3 when the teams combined for a record-low 130 points.
Detroit closed within seven, 78-71, when Stackhouse hit a 3-pointer with 4:46 left in the game. But Pierce made two free throws, then blocked Robinson's shot and saved the ball from going out of bounds to spring Walker on a fast break.
''I just tried to bother the shot. I didn't realize I blocked it until I saw the ball coming up,'' Pierce said. ''When my offense is struggling like it has this series, I try to do the little things.''
Robinson made one of two free throws, then Walker made a pair and Pierce made one to finish a 7-1 run that made it 85-72 with 2:40 left.
Chucky Atkins made the first basket of the game, but the Celtics didn't trail again until Stackhouse hit a 3-pointer to give Detroit a 39-38 lead with 45 seconds left in the first half. Delk hit a 3-pointer in the final second to make it 41-39 at the half.
Walker and Delk had 37 of the team's 41 points at halftime.
The Celtics came out of the break with a 12-0 run, capped by Pierce's 27-footer that gave Boston a 14-point lead with 8:03 left in the quarter. The Pistons missed their first eight shots of the half before Wallace stole the ball from Pierce for a breakaway dunk seven minutes left in the third.
At the end of three, Boston led 66-58 and the Celtics had already scored as many points as they did in Friday night's 66-64 victory.
Notes: The Celtics hit their second 3-pointer five minutes into the game. That's as many as they made in 19 tries in Game 3 on Friday night. ... Pierce scored his first points of the game with 10:25 left in the second quarter. ... Kenny Anderson had two fouls in the first minute.
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