WASHINGTON The Celtics' version of Yin and Yang - known to most as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett - were delivering some serious Celtic synergy on Saturday night.
Pierce delivering a steady dose of scoring went hand-in-hand with Garnett's stout defense as Boston held off a late Washington rally to escape with an 89-86 win.
After dropping the first two games of the season, Pierce was determined to avoid a trilogy of terrible losses to start the season.
"Aggressive" was how C's coach Doc Rivers described Pierce's play to begin the game.
While Pierce may have been more eager to make his mark offensively, Rivers believes his teammates did a better job of getting him and Kevin Garnett (15 points) more involved in the offense.
And the result was the C's racing out to a 17-2 lead.
"I reminded our guys that Paul is on our team, and Kevin was on our team," Rivers said. "I loved at halftime they had the most shots.
At the half, Boston had a 49-42 lead. Pierce led the way with 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Garnett chipped in 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The rest of the C's starters had a total of 14 points.
"In the third and middle of the fourth quarter our transition defense reverted back to where we've been all year," Rivers said. "But overall, especially in the beginning of the game, I thought we came out with great defensive energy."
And leading that defensive charge was Garnett.
"We played with a purpose," Garnett said. "We came with a little fire. That's the way Doc's teams are built. We played with an edge."
True, but the C's left more than enough room for improvement.
"We know we have to play better," Pierce told Comcast SportsNet moments after the win. "We got off to a good start, so we have to be able to maintain that. Late in the third when we got up 12, 13 points, that's a time when you have a chance to put a team away. We didn't do that. So we still have a long way to go, but I'm happy we got the win."