The Washington Wizards got out to a 28-point lead in the first half tonight and then withstood a furious 42-point Celtics 4th quarter to win in Boston 106-96. Andray Blatche led the way with 31 points and 11 rebounds, while a rejuvenated Shaun Livingston added 25 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Nick Young shot poorly [5-15], but used 3-pointers and free throws to score 19 points, while Javale McGee came off the bench to make another big contribution with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Big-talking Kevin Garnett scored 8 points on 3-12 shooting and teammate Paul Pierce had 9 points on 4-12 shooting. Both players sat for most of the 4th quarter as Celtics coach Doc Rivers benched them in disgust.
The Wizards led 52-31 at halftime [18 first half assists on 22 made baskets], the worst scoring half of the season for the Celtics. However, the Wizards fell apart in the 4th quarter, committing one turnover after another, many unforced. Washington had 3 turnovers in a a nearly-perfect first half, but 15 turnovers in a sloppy and lazy 2nd half. The Wizards couldn't handle Boston's press defense in the 4th and stopped playing defense while the Celtics rained down three-pointers in the final period. Nate Robinson made 3 three-pointers in a row and scored 11 points in about one minute of play. Fortunately, the Celtics were forced to foul late in the game and the Wiz made enough free throws to salt the game away.
The win improves Washington's record to 25-54. With 3 games left to play in this nightmarish season, the Wiz return home for a Saturday night game against the Atlanta Hawks, who are battling the Celtics for the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Joe Johnson returned to the lineup tonight for Atlanta as the Hawks rolled past the Toronto Raptors 107-101 to improve their record to 50-29.
Enjoy this video of Al Thornton getting the steal, passing to Earl Boykins, who passed to Andray Blatche for the finish at the hoop. Below that, highlights of the great Wizards first half.
PHOTO: AP Photo/Charles Krupa