Rapid reaction: Celtics 104, Wizards 88

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Ray Allen and the Celtics got to the hoop with ease Friday vs. the Wizards.BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 104-88 Friday night at the TD Garden:


Boston's starting five combined for 85 points on 29-of-53 shooting (54.7 percent) highlighted by Rajon Rondo chipping in 20 points, 14 assists, six steals and a block (he did commit six turnovers). Paul Pierce added 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Kevin Garnett chipped in 15 points and 11 rebounds. Andray Blatche and John Wall registered 20 points apiece for the Wizards.


Despite leading by as much as 13 in the third quarter, the Celtics watched the game get cringe-worthy sloppy and that helped the Wizards claw to within four with 7:03 remaining. That forced coach Doc Rivers to sub out Carlos Arroyo and Troy Murphy for starters Rondo and Garnett, something he surely preferred not to do, especially on the second night of a back-to-back. It was still a two-possession game when Washington committed a series of head-slapping plays. Wall got whistled for a travel and a discontinued dribble, then JaVale McGee watched a wide-open tomahawk slam bounce off the side rim and sail out of bounds. Pierce scored six of Boston's next eight points as the Celtics finally put this one away with little more than two minutes to go.


Rondo played 42 minutes; Pierce 40 more. That's way too much for starters on the tail end of a back-to-back in what should have been a breezy night.


Center Nenad Krstic looked at home back in the starting lineup with a spot start for Jermaine O'Neal (maintenance day), chipping in 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting with six boards over 26 minutes.


::yawn:: The stats won't do this one justice. Yes, the Celtics reached triple digits. Yes, they shot 50.7 percent, including 60 percent on shots inside the 3-point arc. Yes, Boston generated 25 fast-break points (nearly reaching their season high of 30 at Golden State on Feb. 22). But this was about as ugly a game as we've seen at the Garden this season. The teams combined for a whopping 38 turnovers (21 of which went against the Wizards). But a win is a win is a win. And now it's off to South Beach for a battle with the Heat on Sunday that is likely to determine the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.