Coach Monty Williams was bullish about the Detroit Pistons' future despite the team matching the longest losing streak in NBA history on Thursday, when an improved performance was not enough to get them over the line against the Boston Celtics.

The Pistons opened a 21-point lead in the first half as they went in search of a first win since October 28, but Jayson Tatum had 31 points for Boston as they turned things around to lead in the fourth quarter.

Bojan Bogdanovic made a putback with 4.6 seconds left to force overtime, but it was not to be for Detroit as Derrick White scored 10 of his 23 points in the extra period, helping the Celtics to a 128-122 success.

Detroit have now lost their last 28 games, matching the Philadelphia 76ers' record losing run across the end of the 2014-15 season and the start of 2015-16.

They could take that unwanted record outright when they face the Toronto Raptors next time out, but an improved showing against the league's best side offered Williams encouragement.

"I'm unbelievably proud of the group, the way they bring it," Williams said after seeing his team slip to 2-29.

"They've heard all the stuff about our team and they just keep bringing it. I know it's going to pay off.

"As bad as they hurt right now, I hurt for them. But I told them; if we bring that kind of toughness and execution — minus the turnovers — we're not just going to win one game.

"We're going to put something together."

Guard Cade Cunningham finished with 31 points, 22 of which came in the first half, though he missed a potential game-winning three-pointer with seven seconds remaining in regulation.

Like his coach, Cunningham said Detroit were not interested in winning purely to stop the rot, but as a platform for a lasting improvement.

"I'm not interested in just winning one more game this year to stop this, you know what I mean? That would be soft in my opinion," Cunningham said.

"Our goals are a lot higher than that. We have what it takes to win a game, that's nothing.

"But to put games together, to find our system, find what's clicking and allow us to sustain winning…. That's all we're looking for.

"We're on the same level as all these teams we're playing against. There's no team that I've ever come across in the NBA where I felt like I was going into a slaughterhouse. I’ve never felt like that in my life, going into a basketball game.

"Every game, we should be able to fight teams and impose our will on them. We did that early on.

"We let go of the rope a little bit in the third quarter. But there's a lot of growth, something we can learn from and definitely take to the next game."