The Boston Celtics set out to make history in front of a national audience as they wanted to win their 13th game in a row and get out to a franchise best 21-2 start to the season. The hapless Washington Wizards were their opponent for the night and they were on the road. To make the task all the more daunting was that they had another game back at home against Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets the next day. They needed to make short work of these cats and get some rest. The bench needed to show up tonight. Ask and ye shall receive!
The Wizards got out to a fast start thanks to rookie Javale McGee but once the C's woke up Ray Allen and Paul Pierce put the team up for the first time. With Rajon Rondo pushing the tempo and Kevin Garnett dominating on the boards while Kendrick Perkins established himself in the paint the Celtics began to separate from the Wizards. By the end of the first quarter the Celtics were up 36-21 and clearly not rusty from having a a couple of days off.
The second quarter was more of the same. The Celtics' stifling defense and aggressiveness lead to the transition game. Run outs gave them a gang of easy looks thanks to excellent spacing and ball movement from both the starters and the bench players. Rebounds and steals were really starting to add up and the Washington Wizards were playing with no semblance of pride whatsoever as the Celtics kept their foot on the gas and the throat of the Wiz simultaneously. At halftime the score was Boston 63 Washington 39. Dayum!
The Wiz came out on fire to start the 3rd quarter after Ed Tapscott chewed them out for not competing in the first half. The Wizards gave the Celtics a gang of headaches last year due to the matchup problems they force with their personnel. They had a flashback and Juan Dixon, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler came to life suddenly. The Celtics managed to score intermittent baskets between the runs to keep them at bay but the lead was down from 24 to 14 with 6:00 to go in the quarter. Free throws and sporadic Celtic hoops stemmed the tide but with less than a minute to go in the 3rd quarter they pulled to within 10 points (84-74) of the Celtics.
The Wizards previously came back from huge deficits against the Pistons and the Lakers but the Celtics are a different animal. They closed the quarter out with Leon Powe free throws and an Eddie House three to push the lead back up to 15 at 89-74. The Celtics turned up the defensive intensity and pushed the tempo, it resulted in a quick couple of baskets before Dom McGuire hit a buzzer beater three pointer to make the score 93-77 with 9:58 left in the game.
Paul Pierce came down and hit a quick jumper. Then the C's grabbed the board on a missed Washington jumper and pushed the ball up to Eddie House who stroked a three. The Wiz blew a layup at the other end and Paul Pierce grabbed the board, came down the court and hit Eddie House who cooly stroked another three. The Celtics were up 101-77 with 8:28 left to go in the game. The Wizards waved the white towel and the benches emptied out. Mission accomplished.
The Celtics were outscored 35-26 in the 3rd quarter but they outscored the Wizards 33-14 in the 4th quarter. The Celtics defense held the Washington Wizards to only 14 points in the final 13 minutes of the contest. They ended the game by outrebounding the Wizards 41-26, racking up 15 steals and shooting 56% from the field (8-15 from deep). The Celtics also had 31 assists on 44 made baskets and all of the starters scored in double digits in short minutes. Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo barely even played in the final quarter as the bench dominated and pushed the lead into the stratosphere.
Ray Allen (22 pts 4-7 3pts), Paul Pierce (22 pts 6 rebs 8 ast 2 stl), Eddie House (14 pts 4-5 3pts), Kendrick Perkins (12 pts), Kevin Garnett (11 pts 12 rebs 7 ast 2 stl), Rajon Rondo (11 pts 6 ast 3 stl), Tony Allen (10 pts 5 stl), Glen "Big Baby" Davis (9 pts 7 rebs team high +32 O/U) and Leon Powe (7 pts 5 rebs) all showed up in a historic game to win their 13th game in a row and begin the season with a franchise record 21-2 record after 23 contests. Whereas other teams buckled when the Wizards went on big runs, the Celtics simply just shifted into another gear on defense and never let up on offense.
These Boston Celtics have been 87-18 since the beginning of last season and they face a huge test in the New Orleans Hornets Friday night @ the TD Banknorth Garden (the only Garden in basketball that matters). If they can pull this one out on the second night of a back to back where they had to travel there will be no disputing who the best team in the NBA is. Hopefully Rajon Rondo can show the world what kind of point guard he is by knocking off one of the best in the league. The final score: Boston 122 Washington 88. Dayum!