AP Photo/Winslow Townson
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Ray Allen scored 11 of his team-high 27 points in the fourth quarter, hitting three of his six 3-pointers in the frame, helping the Celtics pull away in what had been a seesaw affair. Paul Pierce chipped in 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting, overcoming some early misfires to give the team a lift in the second half. Rajon Rondo didn't exactly have a triple-double, but quarterbacked the offense well again (6 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds over 39 minutes). Brandon Bass kicked in 14 points to spark the bench. Andray Blatche scored a game-high 28 points, while JaVale McGee added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards.
Allen made his first bucket of the second half -- a 3-pointer with 8:56 remaining in the fourth quarter -- to put the Celtics out front 75-74. A Boston team that sputtered on offense for much of the night finally found some rhythm after that. Bass sandwiched a pair of 19-footers around a Marquis Daniel old-fashioned 3-point play off an overload cut (featuring a pretty bounce pass from Rondo) putting Boston on top 82-76 with 6:32 to play. Allen made a couple of more big shots down the stretch, including another 3-pointer for a nine-point cushion with 4:29 to go. That was enough to lift Boston even when the Wizards made another late charge.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Celtics continued to move the ball well, finishing with 28 assists on 38 buckets.
Greg Stiemsma snagged this honor for both ends of the back-to-back, but he was even more instrumental in Monday's win. With Jermaine O'Neal out due to a sore left hamstring, Stiemsma earned his first NBA start and chipped in 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists over 21 minutes. Sure, he had his defensive lapses, but he showed a burst of offense (5-of-7 shooting) that we hadn't seen before and more than held his own in an elevated role.
WHAT IT MEANS
A win on the second night of a back-to-back? The Celtics simply can't complain about that. There's no such thing as style points when this team is playing consecutive games (and its third in four nights). After starting the season with three straight losses, Boston has won three in a row, bringing its record to .500 as it launches into a home-heavy January (10 more games at the Garden). Oh sure, the Celtics again failed to make things easy on themselves, including letting the Wizards rally within four with less than a minute to go, but every game is apparently going to be a grind. But all that matters is the end result and Boston emerged with both ends of this home-and-home against a Wizards team desperate for its first win (and playing inspired ball after their coach got tossed a mere 104 seconds into the game).