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Garnett and Celtics beat T-Wolves again, 104-94

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Garnett and Celtics beat T-Wolves again, 104-94

BOSTON (AP) Kevin Garnett scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and remained unbeaten against his former team as the Boston Celtics beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-94 on Wednesday night in Rajon Rondo's return from a two-game suspension.

The Celtics improved to 10-0 since they acquired Garnett from the Timberwolves during the summer of 2007. They also won for the 11th straight time against Minnesota.

Boston went 1-1 without Rondo, suspended for his role in a scuffle during a game against the Brooklyn Nets last Wednesday.

Rondo had 17 points and 11 assists. Paul Pierce scored 18, Jason Terry 17 and Brandon Bass 12.

Kevin Love led the Timberwolves with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Nikola Pekovic had 14 with nine boards.

Minnesota went just 6 for 19 from 3-point range one night after hitting a season-high 13 3s in a win over Philadelphia.

Boston, which led by seven entering the final quarter, scored 11 of the initial 14 points in the fourth and opened a 90-75 lead on Terry's 3 from the left wing with 7:50 to play. The Timberwolves went nearly 5 minutes without a basket.

The Celtics maintained between a 14 and 12-point lead over the next 3 minutes, keeping the Timberwolves from making a run by nailing a handful of free throws before a spinning, crowd-pleasing basket by Rondo made it 100-85 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

The Celtics used a 9-0 run over 2 minutes to open a 67-61 lead on Terry's 3-pointer midway into the third.

Minnesota, coming off a 17-point win in Philadelphia on Tuesday, scored the last five points of the half to grab a 51-47 edge at the break.

The Celtics opened the game 10 for 13, but cooled off late in the first quarter, missing six of their last nine shots and trailed 30-27 after one.

Love headed to the bench early when he picked up his second foul - both on offense - with 2:27 left in the first quarter.

NOTES: Minnesota held its opponents under 90 points in three of the past four games - all wins. It's a commitment to defense that coach Rick Adelman saw at the beginning of the season. ``We've had a great work ethic,'' he said. ``The guys are working hard on it.'' The Timberwolves entered having allowed the fourth-fewest points in the NBA. ... Boston G Avery Bradley, sidelined since shoulder operations at the end of last season, said he expects to be able to practice in ``one to two weeks.'' ... Boston coach Doc Rivers compared Love's ability to rebound to that of Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman. ``I played with, I think, one of the greatest rebounders all-time - Dennis Rodman,'' he said. ``I watched him at the (London) Olympics and said, `He seems to know where the ball is going when it's in the air.''' Love then went out and grabbed an offensive rebound on Minnesota's first shot of the game. ... Rondo got a loud ovation when he was introduced in the starting lineups. ... Garnett played his 1,273rd game - one behind Minnesota assistant Terry Porter for 17th all-time.

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

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USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

MORE CAPITALS: KEMPNY EXCITED TO MOVE FROM LAST PLACE CHICAGO TO FIRST PLACE WASHINGTON

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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

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USA TODAY Sports

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came at the 2:30 mark of the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby. On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life. The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.