BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have seen their share of short-handed days this season, but missing five players (that’s one-third of their roster) is a bit extreme even for them.
Regardless of how many bodies the Celtics have available, you can expect them to a hard-fought, scrappy kind of game.
That’s example what the Wizards were in store for Wednesday night.
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Despite having more healthy bodies and playing their best basketball of the season, Boston was not going to be denied – not tonight, anyway.
After spending a good chunk of the night fighting their way back, the Celtics delivered the knockout near the end of the fourth with a 13-0 run to pull away for a 117-108 win.
Isaiah Thomas continued to blister teams with his play in the fourth quarter, finishing with a game-high 38 points which included 20 in the fourth quarter. The Wizards (19-19) were led by Bradley Beal's 35 points.
Thomas went into assassin mode in the fourth, with a put-back basket on his own miss and then an absolutely cold-blooded 3-pointer in Bradley Beal’s face followed by another in Otto Porter’s mug that put the Celtics ahead 98-91 – their largest lead of the game – with 7:01 to play.
But the Wizards rank off eight straight to regain the lead 99-98, only for Boston’s Al Horford to work the post and score a physical, bump-and-grind lay-up that gave Boston a 100-99 lead.
That basket was part of a 13-0 Celtics run capped off by a 3-pointer by Horford who finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
The Celtics went back and forth in the first quarter in what was a high-scoring, highly entertaining start to the game that ended with the Celtics ahead 36-35 after the first.
Boston’s control didn’t last long in the second quarter which was dominated by the Wizards who spent most of the quarter holding on to a slim lead that peaked at six points late in the quarter.
But the Celtics cut Washington’s lead to 59-55 at the half following a put-back lay-up by Horford.
Washington pulled ahead by as many as 10 points in the third after a tip-in by Wizards center Marcin Gortat.
But the Celtics, ever the scrappy bunch particularly when their backs are against the wall, went on a 12-3 run to come within 82-81 following a Jae Crowder basket.
The Celtics could not get any closer as the third quarter ended with Boston trailing 85-83.