For a team that is still in search of itself, it was a satisfying win.
And once again, ever more skeptical fans can only hope it is a start to something better.
But injury, age, inconsistency and beating a bad team does not suggest a better bridge is being built. Only the coming games, both before and after the All Star game, will tell us more.
The beleaguered Boston Celtics ended a three game losing streak and put salve on a one point loss at home to the Lakers on national TV on Sunday. The Celtics are now 3-6 over their last 9 games.
That they beat a team that is even more dysfunctional and in far more disrepair than they are, only serves to mitigate the win. Even before ‘Arena-gate’, this Wizards team had major problems.
The Celtics, on a key Kevin Garnett jump shot and some Rajon Rondo free throws, pulled away in the final minute of a far closer game than a look at the stats suggest.
They won 99-88 and held the Wizards to .389 shooting, with 1 of 10 from the three point line while shooting .548 from the field and out rebounded them 39-35.
But that belies the fact that Washington was shooting .529 at the half and were still leading and shooting .481 after three periods.
Pierce Sits Out Final Period
Paul Pierce had his ankle bent in a bad angle and rolled over by Caron Butler on a scramble for the ball in the first half. He came back to play a few minutes in the second half before sitting out the fourth quarter.
After being behind 78-74 after three periods, they got a strong effort from Kevin Garnett, Tony Allen, Rasheed Wallace, Rajon Rondo and even Glen Davis to clamp down defensively and win the 4th quarter going away. They held Washington to 10 fourth quarter points while scoring 25 of their own.
The Wizards scored just 2 baskets in the 4th period on 18 attempts for a .11% shooting quarter.
Boston managed to find a team that has less confidence and less chemistry than they do.
Before the Wizards last two wins, they were 2-8 and have been a huge disappointment compared to the talent that is on this team.
Kevin Garnett was more active at both ends of the floor and led the Celtics with 19 points on 8 of 9 shooting with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal.
Paul Pierce, in limited minutes (28), led the Celtics with 8 rebounds and added 12 points, 11 were scored in the first half.
Rondo Still on Upward Curve
Rajon Rondo continues to be the energetic backbone of this team with 17 points on 6 of 9 shooting, 12 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, but 6 turnovers.
Rajon also continues to improve his shooting and hit a number of mid range and little jumpers in this contest. That is in addition to his continued excellence at distributing the ball with 12 assists.
Ray Allen added 17 points on 6 of 13 shooting with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 turnovers. He found the touch after starting out 2 of 7 shooting. Rumors are out there about Danny seeking trade offers for Ray.
Kendrick Perkins added 9 points, just 3 rebounds, an assist, and 2 solid blocked shots in 26 minutes.
Doc Rivers went with Rasheed Wallace for the whole 4th quarter. Perkins did not play at all.
Tony, Rasheed, and Glen
Tony Allen had yet another solid game with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, a blocked shot and just a single turnover in 28 minutes. Doc played Tony in Pierce’s place, when Paul couldn’t go.
Tony played very well defensively and was aggressive at both ends of the floor. He was the first to start attacking the rim and finished 3 of 9 shooting, with 4 for 4 on free throws.
As the 4th period wound down, Tony d’ed up Caron Butler underneath, forcing him to make a bad pass to Earl Boykins. Tony then stole the ball from Boykins and got it to Rajon for a fast break. Rajon passed it back to a motoring Tony for an easy lay-up.
Rasheed scored 8 of his 14 points in the last period while applying suffocating interior defense with Garnett and later Glen Davis. Wallace added 2 blocked shots, 5 rebounds, and a steal in 22 minutes.
Sheed showed his still highly effective arsenal of low post moves and fade aways in this contest. He shot 4 of 7 with only one three pointer taken (and missed badly), and drew enough fouls to go 6–6 from the free throw line.
Davis – Signs of Life?
Glen Davis has been having big time problems getting anything going this season, especially on the offensive end.
Doc did not play him at all in the first half, for the first time in along time. Brian Scalabrine got the call in the first half. In Davis’ 7 second half minutes, he only scored a point, but had a number of other plays that helped the team significantly.
He fought through a tight double team for a nice assist on a Tony Allen dunk, adding another assist on a kick out to Ray Allen for a much needed three pointer. Glen also drew an offensive foul on Antawn Jamison, played solid defense, and grabbed a few boards in that critical fourth period. Nothing fancy, but better than what we have been seeing from Davis.
The Wizards were led by Caron Butler’s 20 points and 11 rebounds. Antawn Jamison endured a 2 for 17 shooting night, finishing with 8 points.
The Celtics held Washington to just 28 points in the paint, while scoring 38 of their own.
The Wizards stayed in the game by scoring 23 points off turnovers to the Celtics 14 points of turnovers. They also had 13 second chance points to the Celtics 8.
About that bridge they are trying to build. With KG playing better but still not what he used to be, Pierce playing banged up and Ray Allen, the healthiest one, still missing far more than normal, some wonder at this point if it is a bridge too far.
I’m not willing to say that yet. Too many things change far too quickly in this league for such a conclusive judgment. But crossing the Washington bridge isn’t much to get excited about.
The Celtics are now 30-16. They play Miami at home on Wednesday.