With losses by Detroit and Milwaukee, the Celtics are tied with
the Bucks for third place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game
behind the second-place Pistons.
"Right now, the teams are so close you have to watch the
standings," Celtics guard Tony Delk said.
Richard Hamilton scored 21 points, and reserve Tyronn Lue had 19
for the Wizards, who missed a chance to move into eighth place in
the conference. Christian Laettner grabbed 16 rebounds but didn't
score any of his five points until the final five minutes.
Laettner cut Boston's lead to 93-90 with a 21-footer with 2:20
left. Pierce had his shot blocked by Kwame Brown, then Hamilton
threw the ball away.
Pierce made two free throws to make it a two-possession game,
95-90. Laettner missed the first of two free throws with 38 seconds
remaining, and the Wizards never got within a basket.
The game was announced as a sellout, and most of the fans used
their tickets even though the headliner was absent. The game was
bounced from national television after Jordan's operation, and it
was moved back from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
For the Celtics, two games ahead of Philadelphia for the last
home-court playoff spot in the East, it was an opportunity to take
advantage of the weakened Wizards.
The Celtics led for most of the first two quarters, and
Washington for most of the third, but neither team ever opened much
of an advantage.
The Wizards led 73-70 on Lue's jumper with 1:49 left in the
third. But Rodney Rogers made a pair of free throws and then
grabbed a rebound, hitting Delk on the outlet before he found
Pierce with a half-court pass to set up his dunk that gave Boston a
74-73 lead at the end of three quarters.
Delk got a technical with four minutes left in the second period
after hitting a jumper, then arguing with the referee. Anderson got
one for complaining about a foul with a minute left in the half.
Sunday was Brown's 20th birthday. ... Celtics center Tony Battie did not dress for the fourth consecutive game with swelling
in his leg. ... It's the first time the Celtics play the same
opponent on consecutive nights since 1996.