Celtics 114, Wizards 83

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers was ready to give his aging

starters some rest. First, though, he needed to know that his bench

could handle it.

The Boston backups proved themselves capable in the fourth

quarter on Wednesday night, expanding a 20-point lead to 37 and

helping the Celtics coast to a 114-83 victory over Washington for

their most lopsided win of the season. Except for Shaquille O’Neal,

who’s battled injuries, all of the starters played a season-low in

minutes.

”I know Rajon (Rondo) may have had 30, but other than that I

could take those every night,” Rivers said. ”That would be

terrific.”

Paul Pierce had 23 points, Kevin Garnett scored 18 and Rondo had

12 points with 13 assists before sitting out the entire fourth

quarter. O’Neal scored 13 points in 22 minutes.

With one of the oldest lineups in the league, Rivers has

remained mindful of the minutes his starters play, restricting

their playing time to keep them fresh for what they expect to be a

long postseason. But he’s waited 10 games before resorting to pitch

counts.

”You’ve got to get yourself thrown back into the season,”

Rivers said. ”But now it’s time to get our minutes to where we

want them.”

Nick Young scored 20 points for the Wizards, who were without

No. 1 overall draft pick John Wall and center Yi Jianlian. Both

also missed Tuesday night’s game, a 109-94 victory over

Toronto.

”We didn’t play them last night and we won,” Wizards coach

Flip Saunders said. ”Not much to say.”

The depleted roster helped Boston pull away early and rest their

aging starters in its first game back after a four-city road

trip.

”I told our guys, ‘They reached right into our chest and just

took away our will,”’ Saunders said. ”We just couldn’t do

anything. They passed and shot at will.”

The Celtics have won three in a row and eight of their last

nine.

”They’re built for a championship; we’re rebuilding,” said

Gilbert Arenas, who scored 20 on Tuesday and just nine on

Wednesday. ”These are the games when you’re on the playground and

you beat somebody up, and then the real bully comes and beats you

up. We played great last night … and then the big fish came and

whooped us up.”

It was 89-69 at the end of three quarters, and the Celtics’

bench led by as many as 37 in the fourth. Delonte West scored 12

points in his first game back from a 10-game suspension, Semih

Erden scored nine and Glen ”Big Baby” Davis had eight

rebounds.

”It was fun for me to be able to sit back and watch these guys.

I just found myself being a fan of the game, which I am anyway,”

said West, who was punished after pleading guilty to weapons

charges. ”You realize it’s a championship-caliber team and I’m a

part of it.”

Boston trailed 12-9 before scoring 12 of the game’s next 13

points, including three straight inside baskets from O’Neal.

Washington cut it to three points in the second quarter against the

Boston bench, but the Celtics’ starters returned and scored 12 in a

row, this time with Garnett putting in three baskets.

Garnett also hit a long 2-pointer in the closing seconds of the

half to make it 60-44.

Notes: West was a free agent after spending last season with

Cleveland, but the Celtics inherited the suspension when they

signed him. … Wall, averaging 18.1 points and 9.8 assists, is

sidelined with a sprained left foot, and the 7-foot Yi has a

bruised right knee. … The Wizards had gone five straight games

with at least 25 assists, but had only 12 on Wednesday.