First impression: Celtics 104, Wizards 102
December, 10, 2009
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Instant reaction following the Boston Celtics' 104-102 triumph over the Washington Wizards Thursday night at the Verizon Center in the nation's capital:
How the game was won: The Celtics simply couldn't put the Wizards away in the second half, but Rajon Rondo's baseline jam (channeling John Starks, even if Andray Blatche had no desire to play the role of Horace Grant) with little more than a minute to go essentially sealed the victory. Gilbert Arenas' potential tying 3-pointer in the waning moments found all iron and Boston made enough free throws to escape.
Turning point: The Celtics watched a double-digit lead disappear in the third quarter, but Ray Allen's 20,000th career point -- on a 3-pointer with 4:43 to go -- gave the team a much-needed spark and ignited a 13-2 run to close out the quarter. During that stretch, five Celtics scored, capped by a Tony Allen layup for an 83-74 advantage. The Wizards made it close in the fourth, thrice tying the game over the final 2:23, but never took the lead.
Stat of the game: All five starters finished in double figures for the Celtics. On a night in which Paul Pierce struggled mightily, finishing 2 of 8 shooting (6 of 10 at the charity stripe) for 12 points, Rondo (team-high 21 points, 11 assists) and Kendrick Perkins (16 points, 11 rebounds) picked up the slack with double-doubles.
Unsung hero: Tony Allen, in only his second game of the year after recovering from offseason ankle surgery, finished with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, with three rebounds and two steals over 17 minutes. More impressively, he registered a team-best plus-14 in the plus/minus category, helping the bench stretch the lead in the second quarter.
What it means: The Celtics have won nine in a row overall and six straight on the road. While it wasn't the prettiest win of the season, Boston made plays when it needed to. Facing one of the best rebounding teams in the league, the Celtics emerged with a 40-34 advantage on the glass, something that was a big focus of the team heading into the game.