Pierce dropped a season-high 34 points as the C's won for the second time in three games. He rounded out the scoring performance with 10 assists and eight rebounds to push the Celtics (6-9) one step closer to .500.
Kevin Garnet also posted a strong game with 17 points, while John Wall led the Wizards with 27 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Fourth quarter, 19.3, Celtics :09.5: Showing extreme confidence, Bradley opted to keep the ball in the automatic foul situation instead of finding one of the Celtics' veteran hands.
Bradley hit one of two, and Wall failed to draw iron, effectively closing the deal for the C's.
Fourth quarter, :31.3, Celtics 97-92: Garnett gave the C's another offensive threat in the fourth quarter just when the Wizards figured out they might want to slow down Pierce. Garnett contributed a driving dunk and a short jumper to give the C's a workable lead with a half-minute to go.
Fourth quarter, :47.3, Celtics 95-92: As tight as this game is, the Celtics would be well served wrapping this up in regulation. If it goes to overtime, they might have to play without their top player.
Pierce picked up his fifth foul, which put Wall on the line for two free throws to cut Boston's lead to three points. Of greater concern for the Celtics is that it now puts Pierce, who has 33 points, one foul away from being disqualified.
Fourth quarter, 2:18, Celtics 93-90: A few more of Pierce's heroics might be required in the final two minutes. The Wizards don't know when to quit, scoring back-to-back buckets and pulling within one possession on a fallaway by Crawford.
Fourth quarter, 3:23, Celtics 93-86: The Wizards have no answer for Pierce. Few teams if any would have an answer for Pierce in a game like this one.
Pierce played a role in 10 of the Celtics last 12 points, victimizing Young, Crawford and Blatche with equal harshness. He has 33 points in an efficient 10-for-14 shooting performance with 11-of-13 from the free throw line.
Fourth quarter, 5:20, Celtics 85-84: There has been a Sasha Pavlovic sighting, some Greg Stiemsma, a does of E'Twaun Moore and a hearty helping of Avery Bradley, but nobody has left a mark on this game like Pierce.
Pierce is scoring at will, working on a season-high in points. He has 30 points with more than five minutes to go, as his jumper gave the Celtics the lead.
Fourth quarter, 6:06, Wizards 84-83: A foolish play by Pietrus ended up getting overshadowed by an even more foolish one by Young. The Wizards guard was free on a fast break for a dunk, but Pietrus ran into him too late and helped add a free throw as well. Young made the mistake of taunting Pietrus, though, and the technical foul allowed the C's to trail by just one point rather than two.
In a game this tight, that one point may make a big difference later.
Fourth quarter, 7:20, Celtics 80-78: Pierce has done all he can to fend off the Wizards, scoring the Celtics' last five points.
Pierce has 25 points and has missed just three of his 10 field goal attempts.
Fourth quarter, 9:35, game tied 75-75: Most of you have probably flipped over to the Patriots game by now. If so, the Celtics would like to thank you for doing so, because things have gotten ugly in D.C. in the past 15 minutes.
Daniels hit a layup, marking a rare trip into that column of the boxscore, but that was Boston's only scoring in the first 2 1/3 minutes. Young nailed a fallaway, Crawford dropped a fading jumper and Trevor Booker slammed an oop pass from Wall to knot it up.
Allen and his shooting ability wouldn't look so bad on the court for the C's now.
End third quarter, Celtics 73-69: Garnett got into a groove in the third quarter, and that's fortunate for the Celtics. If not for his eight points, the Celtics might have been looking up at the Wizards.
Young hit a 3 and two free throws to help Washington pull within five points as Bass hits jumpers on consecutive Boston possession to keep the C's in the lead. A deep 3 by Crawford closed the gap to four heading into the final 12 minutes.
Third quarter, 4:36, Celtics 63-55: Doc Rivers is going to lose a lot of hair watching Bradley run Boston's offense in this game.
Bradley lost the ball on consecutive possessions, allowing the Wizards to pull within single digits. He lucked out when the Wizards tossed the ball out of bounds despite Bradley getting mixed up and covering what appeared to be nobody.
Third quarter, 5:59, Celtics 63-53: Kevin Garnett got hot and drained three straight long jump shots. Twice the Celtics have led by as many as 15 points.
A three-point play by McGee awoke the Wizards, though, and a fastbreak dunk by Wall pulled the Wizards within 10 points, which is the closest they've been since O'Neal's layup put them ahead by 11.
Third quarter, 8:28, Celtics 59-44: Allen reportedly has a turned left ankle and will not return.
For this game, the Celtics may not need him. A jumper by Garnett stretched the Celtics' lead to 15 points.
Third quarter, 8:55, Celtics 57-44: The rest of the Celtics picked up Pierce's first-half vibe, but the captain himself didn't slow down in the early going of the third quarter.
Pierce opened the scoring for the Celtics with a jumper, then set up O'Neal for a tough layup in the post. Pietrus followed with a layup against tough D to give the C's their biggest lead.
Halftime, Celtics 49-40: First order of business in the second half is to tell Paul Pierce to keep doing whatever he's doing.
Pierce led the Celtics in scoring, rebounds and assists in the first half with 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists. He hit two 3-pointers in the second quarter and set up the Celtics' last two baskets of the first half with assists to Avery Bradley for a jump shot and Mickael Pietrus for a 3.
Pierce is 4-for-7 from the field, 2-for-4 from deep and 8-for-8 from the foul line in 18:18.
Second order of business in the second half is to convince Bradley that he can't continue to cover Wall the way he is.
Bradley persisted in chasing Wall over the tops of screens, giving the speedy Wizards guard an unmolested path to the basket on almost every screen-and-roll. Wall capitalized with 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting.
The Good: Wall did more than just barge to the hoop and score. The second-year guard was 6-of-6 from the foul line and had three assists in 18:20. … It's always hard to compliment Andray Blatche, because there's no telling when he'll jump the shark. But the fourth-year pro out of South Kent Prep in Connecticut had a solid first half, scoring eight points on 4-for-8 shooting and grabbing six rebounds in 18:35.
The Bad: Nick Young scored Washington's first two baskets. He didn't contribute much afterward. The Wizards' leading scorer went 2-for-5 from the field, including two misses from 3-point territory, with two personal fouls and two turnovers in 16:21. … Ray Allen hit three of his five first-half shots and entered halftime with seven points in 11:01. Why is that bad? Because he fell roughly on a Jan Vesely screen and did not return.
The So-so: Bradley logged more playing time than any Celtic in the first half, checking in with 19 minutes, 42 seconds. He registered three assists and finally got his jumper to fall, but he was just 1-for-5 for two points. He helped the Celtics by only committing one turnover.
Second quarter, 3:08, Celtics 40-34: Ugh. McGee missed a fastbreak layup. Maybe he should have thrown it off the glass and dunked it. He seems to be better at that.
Second quarter, 3:58, Celtics 40-32: JaVale McGee can feast on the Celtics' front line, which has relatively little lift. He spike a Bass offering toward the 3-point arc, but Pierce was there to collect the ball and drain a trey.
McGee has 10 blocked shots this season against the Celtics alone.
Pierce leads all scorers with 16 points after a pair of free throws gave the Celtics their largest lead.
Second quarter, 6:21, Celtics 31-30: Allen went down hard when he was chipped on a pick by Jan Vesely and had to leave the game. It looked like he was headed for the trainer's room.
Second quarter, 6:50, Celtics 31-28: Pierce showed that when he's right, he can still carry a team. He burst to the hoop and drew two Wizards defenders, enabling him to drop a pretty no-look pass to O'Neal for a dunk — and to tie the game at 28-28.
Moments later, Pierce collected a pass from Allen on the wing and drilled the go-ahead 3, forcing a time out by Wizards coach Flip Saunders.
Second quarter, 10:29, Wizards 25-22: Blatche has a game-high six points, but the undisciplined, inexperienced Wizards actually have the more balanced scoring attack.
Washington has three players with multiple field goals and four players with at least four points, while Allen is the only Celtic to make more than one shot so far. Allen is 3-of-5 from the field.
End first quarter, Wizards 21-20: Bradley showed improvement running the offense in the first quarter, but there will be growing pains.
Bradley handed out three assists in the first 12 minutes after registering just two in his last four games. He also tossed up an airball that may or may not have been tipped by wall and barely caught front iron on an 18-footer.
On defense, despite his speed, Bradley absolutely must stop trying to go over the top of screens while he's guarding Wall. Trying to chase Wall over the top of a screen allowed Wall to sprint straight past Garnett for the go-ahead layup. Bradley has to mix it up and occasionaly sag under the screen to keep Wall from simply taking off for the hoop with only Garnett or O'Neal's old legs in his way.
First quarter, 1:55, Celtics 18-17: What's Kevin Seraphin so mad about? He looked perturbed when Greg Stiemsma fouled him while blocking his shot, and earlier in the quarter he fouled Brandon Bass with some malice.
First quarter, 2:52, Celtics 16-13: Allen has come out firing, and why not? He scored 27 points the last time he faced the Wizards.
Allen's first 3 of the game gave the Celtics a 13-10 lead, and a 3 by bench sparkplug Mickael Pietrus extended the lead.
Andray Blatche is off to a roaring start with six points, including a vicious dunk of O'Neal on Washington's last possession.
First quarter, 7:11, game tied 8-8: As you may have noticed by now, Joey Crawford is officiating this game, so get ready for oodles of away-from-the-ball fouls at weird times. Goodbye to any chance of flow to this game.
As if on cue, Chris Singleton is whistled for blowing up a screen from Garnett, nullifying a 3-pointer by Pierce.
First quarter, 9:15, game tied 4-4: High school coaches everywhere probably applauded when four Celtics touched the ball on one play, leading to a dunk by O'Neal to tie the game.
Nick Young opened with a pair of fadeaway jumpers for the Wizards.
12:55 p.m.: It's funny how a team an lose five out of six yet point to that lone win as a sign of how it's capable of playing, as if that's a better representation of the team than those five losses.
That's what the Wizards have been doing ever since they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. The 105-102 loss was surprising, since the Wizards have the league's worst record. In Wizards land, the victory was taken as an encouraging sign.
That's all well and good, except that it came on the heels of an eight-point loss to the Rockets and back-to-back losses to the 76ers by a combined total of 44 points. Washington followed up their building-block win with a loss to the Nuggets on Friday.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, if the Celtics are victorious Sunday for the third time in three tries against the Wizards, keep in mind that there's still a ways to go.
12:45 p.m.: The Celtics' stagnant offense will have to find new ways to score without Rajon Rondo for the second straight game.
Rondo's strained right wrist will keep him out of Sunday's game at Washington, the team announced. Second-year man Avery Bradley will most likely start in his place.
Bradley had 10 points and three steals Friday in his first NBA start, against the Suns, but had difficulty operating Boston's offense in the 79-71 loss.
8 a.m. ET: If Bostonians think times are tough for their home team, they might want to take a look south.
The Washington Wizards, owners of the worst record in the NBA at 2-13, open the doors of the Verizon Center on Sunday afternoon for the Celtics. The Wizards have lost five of their last six games, only slightly better than the Celtics' pace of six losses in their last seven games.
Not everyone can have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick running the show, unfortunately.
As trade talk swirls around captain Paul Pierce and point guard Rajon Rondo deals with his injured wrist, join NESN.com for updates and analysis during the game. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.