Saturday, February 10, 2024

Celtics 133, Wizards 129: Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis propel C's to 40th victory

The Celtics (40-12) capped off their longest homestand of the season with a 133-129 win over the Washington Wizards (9-42) Friday night at TD Garden.

Despite the Wizards hitting 19 from deep to Boston's 11, a significant three-point disparity, the C's were still able to emerge victorious thanks in large part to outscoring the visiting team by 20 when it came to points in the paint. The Celtics also made 26-of-28 from the free throw line, led by Kristaps Porzingis -- who had a career-high 14 attempts and sank all of them -- to Washington's 19-of-21 as a team. 

Jayson Tatum racked up a near triple-double with 35 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists on 12-22 shooting, including 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Tatum also added two blocks and a steal on the defensive end. Porzingis poured in 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds of his own on 9-of-18 shooting, including 2-of-4 from long distance.
"Now playing against him, [Kyle] Kuzma was guarding me for a big part of the game. I don't think he realized last year what I was doing for them, all the tricks, all the drawing fouls," Porzingis somewhat jokingly said to reporters about his former teammate. "I'm just grateful to play with this level of players around me. We make life easier for each other."
Jrue Holiday (elbow) returned from a one-game absence to finish with 20 points, seven rebounds while Jaylen Brown added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Celtics -- who are now 25-3 at home.

Deni Avdija led the Wizards with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and Corey Kispert also netted 24 points. Jordan Poole had 19 points on 7-of-19 from the floor, Tyrus Jones (nine assists) and Kyle Kuzma each registered 17 points respectively for Washington -- losers of five in a row.

The first half was a pretty even affair, however, the Wizards took a 71-64 advantage into the break after a 14-2 run to close the second quarter. The Celtics came out of the gates with force in the third period, using a 26-11 run on their way to outscoring Washington 36-16 in the frame. 

Boston was ahead 100-87 to start the fourth before the Wizards made a late rally with a 14-6 spurt, which included four straight made 3-pointers -- cutting the deficit to four with 25.1 seconds left to play -- but it was too little too late.
"We are working on playing very intentional basketball," said Jaylen Brown in his postgame comments. "It's a full journey in a season. It's going to be highs and lows. It's going to be games where shots are not going in and through at all. We've got to stick together. And that's what we've been doing."
Transition offense was the name of the game for the Wizards in the first half, as Washington had a whopping 26 fast-break points. The Celtics mostly shut the water off in the final two quarters, allowing just 10 fast break points after intermission.
"It took us a little while to combat their speed," Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said of the Wizards fast paced approach. "They had the advantage in the first quarter and a half with their speed… We were a little bit more physical defensively and I thought we really chipped away at it in the third quarter."
The Celtics concluded their seven-game homestand with a 5-2 record and will look to continue their winning ways when they hit the road on Super Bowl Sunday against the Miami Heat, in a matinee tip-off at 2:00 p.m. ET on ABC.

Game Notes:

Boston connected on 52.2% of their attempts from the field and were 11-of-34 from (32.4%) 3-point range, while the Wizards were 47.4% from the floor and 20-of-47 (42.6%) from long distance. The Celtics won the rebound battle 49-39 and outscored the visitors 62-42 in the paint. Washington had 32 assists (12 turnovers) on 45 baskets to the C's 25 dimes (13 turnovers) on 48 made shots.

Eli Weisberger

Photo used courtesy of The Boston Globe

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