Behind throughout the game and trailing the lowly Washington Wizards by 13 with six minutes left in the game, the Celtics finally came to the collective realization that they needed to band together. Over the next six minutes, they did just that, going on a 20-4 run with contributions from several starters to claim an 86-83 win Sunday night at TD Garden.
Rajon Rondo spearheaded the late surge for Boston, making a steal and dishing to Ray Allen for a fast-break dunk, hitting a slick runner off the glass and earning a three-point play that resulted in an Allen 3-pointer, a shot that gave the Celtics their first lead since 11-10 in the first quarter. Following a Randy Foye jumper in the lane that put the Wizards back up one, Allen later hit another 3 with 17 seconds left that gave Boston a lead it would not relinquish.
Allen had a game-high 25 points to pace the Celtics, while Paul Pierce chipped in with 17 and Rondo added 15 points and seven assists.
Al Thornton had a big day for the young and rebuilding Wizards, posting 24 points and 11 boards. Andray Blatche put up an athletic 23 and nine in defeat for Washington.
Celtics 86, Wizards 83
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
March 7, 2010
Headliner: Rajon Rondo was the spectacular — and often haphazard (he had four turnovers, which included several careless passes on the break) — floor leader who led the Celtics' comeback from 13 points down in the fourth. But it was Ray Allen whose consistency at both ends of the floor kept the C's in the game and buried the Wizards down the stretch.
His 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:33 remaining — following Rondo's free-throw miss and Kendrick Perkins' enormous offensive rebound — gave Boston its first lead since the first quarter. Then, another clutch Allen 3 with 17 seconds left put the Celtics up two.
Allen finished 10-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also finished plus-18 on the night, a game high.
Unsung Hero: Young forwards Al Thornton and Andray Blatche had impressive showings against the far more experienced Celtics front line. Thornton, in particular, would have been the star of the game had it not been for his team folding down the stretch.
After 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half alone, Thornton started off the second half with a bang. His filthy left, then right, then left again move left Paul Pierce in the dust, and he finished the drive by splitting a leaping Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins with an up-and-under reverse flip off the glass — and the foul — that gave the Wizards a 48-40 advantage.
Scrub: Though he finished with eight points and 10 rebounds in the Boston win, Kevin Garnett had a rough day in all against the Wizards. KG had four turnovers and went 0-for-7 from the field, not hitting a shot in a game for the first time since — get this — Jan. 27, 1996, when he was a rookie with the Timberwolves.
Turning Point: With the Celtics already having chopped four points off Washington's 13-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Wizards were looking to hit back. That's the only excuse possible for Randy Foye's long 3-point attempt with plenty of time still left on the shot clock.
Following Foye's bad miss, Rajon Rondo grabbed the board, sprinted up court and dished to Ray Allen for a deuce. Washington coach Flip Saunders was livid at Foye's shot selection and he called a timeout to try to stem the Celtics' tide. It didn't work, as the Celtics outscored the Wizards 14-4 the rest of the way to earn the win.
Up Next: After four games in the last six days, the Celtics stay busy with eight more games in the next 12 days. Their demanding stretch tips off Tuesday night in Milwaukee against the Bucks at 8 p.m. ET.
The Bucks (33-29) currently stand fifth in the Eastern Conference. Their somewhat unexpected success this season stems from the contributions of several new faces in town.
John Salmons, who was traded to Milwaukee from Chicago at the deadline, has averaged a team-high 19.2 points per game in his 10 tilts in a Bucks uniform. Rookie guard Brandon Jennings has impressed as well, scoring 15.8 points and handing out 6.1 assists a night.
Former first overall pick Andrew Bogut is also having his best season as a pro, averaging career bests in points (16.0), rebounds (10.3) and blocks (2.5).