|DeShawn Stevenson is out for a drive, but the Celtics' Kevin Garnett presents a roadblock. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)|
WASHINGTON - When you play for a franchise that has won an NBA-best 17 titles and boasts Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, and Larry Bird among many others, it's hard to do something that hasn't been done in franchise history. Well, today's Celtics accomplished that rare feat last night.
The Celtics pushed to a franchise-best 21-2 start by hammering the Washington Wizards, 122-88, at the
"It's always good to make history, especially when you're playing for such a storied franchise," forward Paul Pierce said. "There are not a lot of record-breaking moments with the Celtics because you know they've done so much with the history . . . Whenever we can make history, it's great."
Said forward Kevin Garnett, "Any time you can make history, you always have to give it up to the people that have come before you. I'm a big fan of history. But to establish ourselves in history that is so enriched with culture, prestige, and tradition is a great thing."
The Celtics also had a season-high margin of victory, bettering a 24-point blowout of Philadelphia Nov. 28. Pierce and Ray Allen scored 22 points. All the starters scored in double figures, highlighted by Garnett's line: 11 points, 11 rebounds, and a season-high 7 assists. The Wizards shot 43.1 percent from the field, missed 14 of 18 3-pointers, and allowed 32 points off 22 turnovers.
Garnett wore a white wrap around his right knee instead of his usual black one, prompting concern he might have a knee injury. He didn't seem to move as smoothly as normal, but said, "I'm out there. I'm doing what I do. I don't think anyone in the league is 100 percent. I am energetic in setting guys up, making plays, and getting guys easy baskets."
The Wizards (4-16) won the series against Boston, 3-1, last season despite missing star guard Gilbert Arenas, who was injured for two of the wins.
But Arenas and center Brendan Haywood have been out all of this season, and without them around, the Celtics opened a 36-21 lead in the first quarter.
"We came here with a little something on our shoulder, to be honest," Garnett said. "Washington has played us the best out of any of the teams in the league and they have a little swag with them. Tonight, there really wasn't much to be said."
Allen nailed four 3-pointers and had 13 points and Pierce added 10 points in the Celtics' highest-scoring first quarter of the season. Boston scored 35 points against Golden State Nov. 26.
The Celtics shot 50 percent (12 of 24) on field goal attempts in the first and scored 10 points in the paint.
The Celtics owned a 63-39 halftime lead, holding Washington to 37.1 percent shooting. Boston made 21 field goals in the first half, including four 3-pointers.
"I thought the first half was some of our best basketball," coach Doc Rivers said. "We played great on offense and defense in the first half."
Washington trimmed its deficit to 84-74 on a 19-foot jumper by Caron Butler (19 points) with 1:06 left in the third quarter. But two Leon Powe free throws and Eddie House's 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left gave Boston an 89-74 lead. The Wizards outscored the Celtics, 35-26, in the quarter.
"We knew we weren't going to get back into the game quickly," said Wizards forward Antawn Jamison, who scored 17 points. "We just had to fight and claw our way back."
But the way things ended, the Wizards looked like they were clawed.
House (14 points, 4 of 5 on 3-pointers) nailed two straight threes to put Boston up, 101-77, with 8:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. After the Wizards followed by calling a timeout, House told the crowd to go home. Many of the 20,173 seemed to follow his order. House hit another 3-pointer about a minute later for good measure.
"We have to give the [starters] some rest," House said. "We have the game [tonight]. We tried to put that [stuff] away early so they can rest their legs for [New Orleans]."