The Boston Celtics (30–16) ended their tough three-game losing streak on Monday with a 99–88 win against the Washington Wizards (16–31) at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C.
Boston star Kevin Garnett led in scoring with 19 points, and 2010 All-Star Rajon Rondo was the player of the night with 17 points, 12 assists, and 4 rebounds.
The Celtics had fallen to three top teams, including the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks, in just four days leading up to Monday’s game. Their one-point loss to the L.A. Lakers on Sunday in Boston off a Kobe Bryant jumper in the final seconds was no doubt the toughest to swallow.
Now with their second back-to-back game in a week and their legs tired and pride on the line, the Celtics knew they were going to have to dig deep to pull off a win on the road.
But after a brief Celtics run midway in the first quarter, the Wizards proved they were just as eager for the win and closed the gap by one at the end of the first quarter.
The Wizards took the lead two minutes into the second quarter and pulled ahead by as much as nine points with a tremendous bench performance that combined for 23 points and a 54–48 lead to close the half.
The Wizards’ well-distributed shooting resulted in only three missed field goals in the second quarter alone, and aggressive defense forced 10 Boston turnovers in the first half. Guard Mike Miller led with nine points, five rebounds, and two assists at the half.
The Wizards maintained their lead for the entirety of the third quarter, but the Celtics defensive machine stepped it up in the fourth to keep Washington from getting good looks at the basket down the stretch.
The Celtics pulled ahead 81–80 for their first lead since the first quarter with just under nine minutes to go in the game off a Ray Allen 3-pointer.
Wizards big man Andray Blatche answered with a jumper for his 2001st career point to put the Wizards back up, but the Celtics quickly took it back and slowly extended the lead.
Boston clearly wanted it more in the final minutes, with aggressive defense from Rondo and a far superior offense outscoring the Wizards 25–10 for the quarter.
Wizards star Antawn Jamison was kept to just 8 points for the night and was a miserable 2–17 in field goals. Caron Butler led the team with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists, and the team maintained well-rounded scoring despite the loss.
“We played hard. I think the guys were really frustrated with the lack of calls,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said in the post-game conference.
“We just couldn’t seem to get anything going and make plays in the fourth when we needed to.”