The homecoming does not last long, since the Celtics immediately hit the road to take on Charlotte on Monday night, but it gave the home fans something to cheer about.
Fourth quarter, 2:47, Celtics 86-67: With Rondo back in at point guard, the Celtics went back to operating like a well-oiled machine on offense. Rondo hit a pair of runners and Pierce stuck a 3-pointer and a step-back jumper as the Celtics surged to a 19-point advantage.
Hollins has a reputation for not boxing out, so Pierce took it upon himself to crash the boards with Bass. Pierce nabbed his team-high eighth rebound in addition to finding his own shot on the offensive end.
Wall picked up a technical foul, so at least the Wizards aren't happy about heading for another loss.
Fourth quarter, 5:53, Celtics 75-64: Wall tossed an alley-oop to Vesely for a dunk, and Hollins and Bass, the Celtics' big men on the play, looked at each other with confused looks. They weren't saying, hey, that was great defense.
Rivers obviously opted to experiment and see how the Celtics would fare defensively with Hollins and Bass playing together, while simultaneously seeing how the offense ran with Dooling and Bradley in the backcourt.
The verdict: Not great. The Wizards pulled back within 11 points on that unit before Rivers put Rondo back into the game.
Fourth quarter, 8:50, Celtics 71-58: No one can accuse Brian Cook of being shy. Cook, who was a throw-in as part of the three-team deal that delivered Nene to Washington, jacked up three shots, including a 3-pointer, in his first 4:25 on the floor.
He didn't hit any of them and almost single-handedly halted some promising momentum the Wizards had been building.
End of third quarter, 69-55: When the ball was knocked out of bounds midway through the third quarter, Wall quickly tossed the ball to the official and clapped his hands emphatically.
Wall's message: Give me the ball so I can push it.
Wall turned up the dial on the Celtics in the third quarter, helping the Wizards pull as close as 10 points. Bradley cooled off, and Wall and Crawford got hot to make the game interesting.
Unfortunately for Washington, that also got the Garden crowd into the game. The fans reacted loudly when Pierce hit a 3-pointer to put the Celtics up 60-47, then cheered louder when Pierce score an old-fashioned three-point play to make it a 16-point game. A jumper by Bass put Boston's advantage back to 18 comfortable points.
The Wizards were able to chip away slightly over the final minutes of the quarter, but the Celtics' own message was clear: When the Celtics focus, they can handle the Wizards rather easily.
Third quarter, 7:30, Celtics 55-45: The Wizards have a way of lulling their opponent into a false sense of security. It only seems like you don't have to play any defense against them.
The Celtics got tight on offense, trying to be too fine, and as a result they gave up decent looks for worse ones. Meanwhile, they challenged the Wizards to beat themselves. That is often a winning strategy, but the Wizards put together a few respectable possessions, with a Kevin Seraphin putback pulling Washington within 10 points.
Halftime, Celtics 53-34: Ryan Hollins made his first appearance as a Celtic at the TD Garden, with mixed results. He caught a pass from Pierce in the lane for an easy basket but then fell asleep on defense and allowed Jan Vesely to get behind him for an easy layup.
The Celtics had to hit the snooze button pretty hard in the first half for the Wizards to capitalize, though. Washington shot 13-for-45 from the field (29 percent) and had only seven assists with eight turnovers. The Celtics shot 22-for-34 (65 percent) with 18 assists on their 22 field goals.
The Good: Avery Bradley sliced up the Wizards for 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting. He hit his only 3-point attempt and both foul shots he took. … Greg Stiemsma had a tough time with JaVale McGee in the Celtics' earlier meetings with the Wizards, but McGee is now in Denver, and Stiemsma made McGee's absence glaringly clear. Stiemsma hit all four shots he took and was perfect from the free throw line for 10 points. He also had seven rebounds.
The Bad: John Wall missed his first five shots before finally stuffing home a dunk with 40 seconds left in the first half.
The So-so: Rajon Rondo had a big role in Bradley's huge first half, racking up eight assists while playing tight defense on Wall both one-on-one and in the zone. Rondo also committed five turnovers, though, as he tried to get too fancy on several occasions.
Second quarter, 2:56, Celtics 49-27: It took nearly 19 minutes of game action for Paul Pierce to crack the scoring column, but when he did, he made it count.
Pierce scored eight straight Celtics points to extend Boston's lead to 23 points.
Even his shooting spree was secondary to Bradley's continued hot streak. Bradley got fouled and went to the line for two free throws, which he of course hit to give him 17 points in less than 19 minutes on the court.
Second quarter, 6:37, Celtics 37-20: Bradley finally missed a shot, making him 7-for-8 from the floor. Rivers benched him for it.
Just kidding. Rivers did take a timeout to address the Wizards scoring on three straight possessions, but it's unlikely Bradley's missed shot had anything to do with it. If it did, Rivers is a tough cookie.
Second quarter, 9:40, Celtics 33-12: The NBA designates a set number of timeouts per game, so if the Wizards continue to call a timeout every time the Celtics go on a run, they could be out of timeouts by halftime.
Stiemsma scored on an athletic running hook shot — yes, you read that right — and Daniels ran off one of Garnett's patented post screens for a reverse layup. Wittman quickly signaled for a timeout.
The Wizards began the game 3 for-25 from the field and 1-for-6 from 3. The Celtics opened the game 14-for-21 from the floor.
End of first quarter, Celtics 27-12: Bradley wasn't the only player the Wizards made look very, very good. Everybody got in on the scoring action for the Celtics in the opening 12 minutes.
Keyon Dooling and Greg Stiemsma hit jumpers on back-to-back possessions to stretch Boston's lead to 15 points. Coach Doc Rivers employed an unconventional lineup of Rondo, Dooling, Stiemsma, Bass and Marquis Daniels because, heck, why not? Might as well try to find a combination that won't work against the Wizards, if there is one.
First quarter, 2:10, Celtics 23-11: As the Celtics passed the ball around the perimeter, an impatient fan yelled, "Give it to Bradley! What the hell's the matter with you?"
It's hard to imagine those sentences have been said any time this season, but the fan has a point. Bradley scored his 15th point after recovering a bobbled pass from Rondo to Bass.
Bradley was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field.
First quarter, 5:52, Celtics 17-8: Jordan Crawford will never be mistaken for Dennis Johnson on defense, but what Bradley did to him in the first six-plus minutes of this game was shocking.
Bradley scored on fastbreak dunks, 3-pointers and cutting layups to score 13 points in the first 4:55, giving the Celtics a 17-4 lead.
The Wizards are a motley crew on both ends of the floor, but getting lit up by Bradley, who averages 4.4 points per game, might be a new low.
First quarter, 9:15, Celtics 10-2: With Bradley at the forefront, the Celtics sprinted out to an eight-point lead. The second-year guard scored six points in the first 2:10, ending with a steal and a dunk.
Rondo found Garnett underneath for his third assist, prompting a timeout by Washington coach Randy Wittman.
6 p.m.: A lot of people are big fans of the Wizards' new uniforms, and they certainly are an improvement over whatever you want to call their former blue and bronze look. One gripe, though, is that it's virtually impossible to read the numbers on the jerseys, with a big stripe running through the digits.
It's easy to identify Wall, since he's the one moving a million miles an hour, and Nene, since he has the dreds, and Andray Blatche, since he's the out of shape guy sitting on the bench.
It takes a while longer to identify anyone other than those three.
Also, Nene is out with back spasms.
5:30 p.m.: Avery Bradley gets his 11th start of the season as Mickael Pietrus and Ray Allen will be sidelined for Sunday's game against the Wizards.
Pietrus' absence is expected given the scary scene in Philadelphia, where he took a hard tumble after drawing a foul from Lou Williams. Allen was a surprise scratch Friday and will miss this game and Monday's game in Charlotte as he continues to battle a balky right ankle.
The probable starting lineups appear below.
8 a.m.: The long, hard slog through seven different NBA cities is finally over for the Celtics, who finally enjoy some home cooking before taking on the Wizards at the TD Garden on Sunday.
The status of Ray Allen, who did not play Friday in Philadelphia due to a sore right ankle, is uncertain. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely Mickael Pietrus will take the court after being taken off on a stretcher Friday, although he was cleared to return to Boston after tests Saturday in Philadelphia.
The Wizards will have a slightly different look from the team the Celtics defeated three times earlier this season. Center JaVale McGee and second-leading scorer Nick Young were sent away in a three-team deal that netted the Wizards Nene, who will be making his fourth appearance in one of Washington's snazzy uniforms.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off from the TD Garden at 6 p.m.
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