Celtics 104, Wizards 102

The Boston Celtics won their ninth straight game and their 10th

in 11 road games. They had a player score his 20,000th point,

another his 19,000th and held their opponents without a rebound for

an entire quarter.

Even with all those superlatives, the Celtics didn’t secure

their 104-102 win over the Washington Wizards until the final

moments Thursday night.

It took Rajon Rondo’s driving dunk with a minute remaining to

break a tie. Boston (18-4) began the night tied with Orlando for

the best record in the Eastern Conference. Orlando played at Utah

later on Thursday.

“We believe we can win games in any situation, and that’s a

good sign,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

Rondo had a season-high 21 points and 11 assists, and Ray Allen

had 18 and became the 32nd NBA player to score 20,000 points. Kevin

Garnett had 17 points, and Kendrick Perkins added 16 points and 11

rebounds.

Primarily a passer, Rondo changed his game for one night.

“Tonight it was me being aggressive. I still wanted to pass

first, but tonight I had to take the shot,” Rondo said.

“Clearly their game plan was they weren’t going to guard him,”

Rivers said. “They were going to give him shots, and he took

them.”

Gilbert Arenas led Washington with 25 points, but missed a pair

of free throws with 26.7 seconds to play. Arenas missed five of his

six free throws.

After Paul Pierce hit one of two free throws to make it 101-98,

Arenas hit a layup with 17 seconds to make it 101-100. Allen hit

two free throws with 14.6 left for a 103-100 lead. Arenas and Randy

Foye missed 3-point attempts in the final seconds.

Rondo not only was a shooter, he had to try and contain

Arenas.

“He’s playing one of the premier point guards in the league in

Gilbert, so you know he’s going to be geeked and jacked up for

that,” Garnett said.

The Wizards, who have lost three straight, hit their first four

shots of the game, and made 10 of their first 15 to take a 26-19

lead with 3:43 to play in the first quarter. Washington missed its

last seven shots of the quarter as the Celtics started a 21-6 run

to take a 40-32 lead with 8:17 to play in second quarter.

Boston extended the lead to 14 at 64-50 at halftime, shooting

62.9 percent, and holding the Wizards without an individual rebound

in the second quarter. According to STATS Inc., that hasn’t

happened in the seven years it has kept records.

Arenas was embarrassed about his poor free-throw shooting.

Entering this season, he was a career 81 percent foul shooter. Now,

he’s shooting nearly 10 percentage points lower than that, and

jokingly said his team might soon be called the

“Hack-A-Wizards.”

Arenas said that his teammates weren’t lacking motivation

against an outstanding team.

“We get up for games like this. It’s the other games we have to

start getting up for,” Arenas said. “Right now, we’re a

bottom-feeder team.”

Allen became the 32nd NBA player to score 20,000 points in his

career, hitting a a 3-pointer with 4:44 remaining in the third

quarter. Allen came into the game needing 14 points for 20,000, and

it was on his mind.

“All day today, it was like, ‘Don’t get hit by a car. Get out

here, don’t get hurt, take care of your body,”’ Allen said.

NOTES: Washington played wearing patches on their jerseys

honoring late owner Abe Pollin and two logos were placed on the

court. … Pierce scored 12 points, giving him 19,002 in his

career. … Washington coach Flip Saunders says there’s no

timetable for the return of injured G Mike James, who began

practicing this week. James has missed more than a month with a

broken finger. … Boston has won four straight games between the

teams. Last season, the Celtics swept all three meetings.