Johnson: Celtics power past Wizards

Johnson: Celtics power past Wizards
April 9, 2011, 2:07 am
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Friday, April 8, 2011 10:03 p.m.
By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comBoston -- As predicted by Wizards head coach Flip Saunders, the Boston Celtics tried to put the game away in the first quarter. The Wizards survived an early 12-point deficit, and flirted with an upset in the fourth quarter, before the Celtics pulled away for a 104-88 victory.Coming off a critical loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night, the Celtics opened the game on a 14-4 run and never trailed. Rajon Rondo orchestrated the Celtics victory with 20 points and 14 assists, while Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each turned in double-doubles.Pierce scored a game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds. Garnett collected 15 points and 11 rebounds as all five Celtics starters scored in double figures. Nenad Kristic had 17 points and Ray Allen, only 1 of 6 beyond the arc, still added 13 points.Andray Blatche almost single-handedly helped the Wizards avoid collapse as he scored 10 of the teams first 21 points. Blatche led the Wizards with 20 points and 10 rebounds. It was Blatches fifth consecutive game with at least 10 rebounds.Yeah I feel bad because Dre (Blatche) doesnt have a lot of help, Saunders said. From a standpoint, of that hes our only really guy you can throw it to on the low block that will demand a double team, or demand where youre going to come after him."Jordan Crawford added 19 points and brought the Wizards to within four points at 87-83 on breakaway lay-up with a little over 7 minutes to play. Crawford then had a chance to make it a one-point game, but missed an open three-point attempt.Still clinging to life at 89-83, the Wizards were left to rue another opportunity missed when JaVale McGees attempt to finish a fast break dunk ricocheted off the back of the rim and out of play. The Celtics responded by closing the game on a 16-5 run over the final 6:17.The Celtics final run was jump-started by three Wizards turnovers in less than two minutes. To be sure the Celtics are the NBAs best defensive team, but the Wizards mistakes were unforced errors. In a furious attempt to stay in the game, the Wizards lost their way.When were down thats when we have to play the best basketball, instead of panicking and everyone thinking they can do it on their own, cause thats not going to happen, Blatche said. We definitely slipped up on some defensive plays.The game was also decided in part at the free throw line. Pierce made 12 of 13 free throws and as a team, the Celtics were 31 of 35 from the line, while the Wizards were 17 of 26.McGee missed 6 of 7 free throw attempts for the Wizards, but contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds. John Wall scored 20 points and had 7 assists. Wall did turn the ball over 7 times, but tried to make up for it on the defense end where he had 5 steals.Down by 13 points at 81-68 with 2:34 to go in the third quarter, the Wizards received a much needed shot of adrenaline from their bench. Othyus Jeffers, Larry Owens, and Kevin Seraphin played critical roles in the Wizards desperate push to get to within 4 points at 87-83.Jeffers, Owens, and Seraphin did not stand out in the box score, but they maximized their time on the floor, with key, blocks, steals and rebounds. Their intensity on defense helped the Wizards on a 15-6 run that carried over from the end of the third quarter into the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.