First impressions: Celtics 99, Wizards 88
Instant reaction after the Boston Celtics posted a 99-88 triumph over the Washington Wizards Monday night at the Verizon Center:
How the game was won: The Celtics put six players in double figures with forward Kevin Garnett connecting on 8 of 9 shots for a team-high 19 points. Point guard Rajon Rondo spearheaded the offense with 17 points and 12 assists, and he finished with a team-best plus-14 in the plus/minus category. Paul Pierce suffered a first-quarter foot injury and, while he returned to the game in the second quarter, he was limited to 27 minutes. Pierce, who spent the final moments of the game on the bench, finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Caron Butler, who contributed to Pierce's injury by landing on the foot during a scramble for the ball, finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds to pace the Wizards.
Turning point: After some fourth-quarter woes in recent games, including having a pair of 11-point, fourth-quarter leads evaporate in recent losses to the Magic and Lakers, Boston limited Washington to a mere two field goals and just 10 points in the final quarter.
Stat of the game: The Wizards shot 38.9 percent from the floor (28 of 72) as Boston's defense turned up the intensity late.
Unsung hero: Tony Allen (10 points) continues to shine off the bench, but it might have been Rasheed Wallace who stood out most as he put up only one 3-pointer, and finished 4-of-7 shooting for 14 points. He also had 5 rebounds and a plus-8 in the plus/minus.
What it means: The Celtics salvaged the final game of a stretch that featured four games in five days, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process. The dominant fourth quarter showed how focused they emerged after a last-second loss to the Lakers Sunday.
Play Podcast "Spanning the Globe" features ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, Yahoo! Sports' Eric Edholm and ESPN LA 710's Mark Willard.
Play Podcast NFL Films' Greg Cosell covers the Eagles' addition of Darren Sproles, Chip Kelly's offense, the Patriots' signing of Darrelle Revis and more.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards covers Darrelle Revis' new deal, concerns with Josh McCown, the Jets' potential, whether a team would try to recruit Tony Gonzalez and more.
Play Podcast Grantland's Bill Simmons discusses the state of the Lakers, Phil Jackson's future, the perception of Rajon Rondo, Doc Rivers' impact on the Clippers and more.
Play Podcast Red Sox manager John Farrell talks about whether he expected his team to make such a turnaround in one season, his relationship with his players, fans' expectations for the squad and more.