Ford Keys to the Game: Wizards 88, Celtics 104

Ford Keys to the Game

Wizards 88, Celtics 104

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo hangs in the air as he drops off a pass in an attempt to rack up one of his 14 assists.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

Can a Key Moment last 12 minutes? Tonight it can.

The Boston Celtics, who have given so many lackluster performances in the fourth quarter over the past month, played phenomenal in the final quarter tonight. In recent weeks, the C’s have let opponents up after knocking them down – and at times even helped them up – but tonight they decided to crush the Washington Wizards while they were already on the floor.

The Celtics’104-88 blowout win came thanks to a fourth quarter in which the C’s limited Washington to just 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting. In reality, Boston only allowed 10 points in the frame, because John Wall took and hit a 3-pointer as time expired despite the Celtics choosing not to defend him. Boston thought the Wizards would calmly dribble the clock out, but that’s a whole other story.

While the Wizards were busy missing shots, the Celtics were busy making them, from both the field and the free-throw line. Each team made six field goals in the final period, but Boston did so on four less attempts. The C’s also shot 9-of-10 from the charity stripe in the money quarter, led by a pair of 4-for-4 performances by Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.

The score in a quarter is often indicative of the type of play that occurred during those 12 minutes. Boston’s eight-point advantage indicates that it outplayed the Wizards, but it sure felt like the Celts outplayed them by more than eight points in the frame. The Celtics played suffocating defense – championship-level defense – and that’s exactly what they needed heading into the most important game of the season on Sunday afternoon.

Key Box Score Line

All five of Boston’s starters finished with at least a plus-20 in the plus/minus category, and all five finished with at least 13 points. That’s evidence that there were several candidates for this section tonight. We give the tip to Rajon Rondo, who bounced back from last night’s struggles in a big way.

Rondo finished with one of Boston’s three double-doubles, as he racked up 20 points and 14 assists. He also pulled in three rebounds and finished with a game-high six steals.

With such dominant numbers, it’s difficult to fathom his empty performance one night ago. Rondo bounced back tonight with energy, aggressiveness and relentlessness at both ends of the floor. That type of play was what led the Celtics all night long. He is the engine that runs this team, and that engine was humming at a beautiful tune tonight.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Three of Boston's starters (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo) finished with double-doubles.
  • Pierce scored a game-high 22 points and collected 12 rebounds..
  • Garnett finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Rondo finished with 20 points and 14 assists.
  • Pierce attempted a game-high 13 free throws and made 12 of them.
  • Rondo grabbed a game-high six steals.
  • Rondo's 14 assists were double that of the game's next-highest total of seven, which came from John Wall.
  • The teams combined to shoot just 2-of-19 from 3-point range (1-of-12 for Boston, 1-of-7 for Washington).
  • Two Wizards recorded double-doubles: Andray Blatche with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and JaVale McGee with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Both teams grabbed 38 rebounds.
  • Boston made 31 of its 35 free throw attempts.
  • The Celtics outassisted the Wizards by a count of 25-14.
  • Wall also scored 20 points for the Wizards.
  • The two starting point guards combined for 13 turnovers, seven by Wall and six by Rondo.
  • All five of Boston's starters finished with a plus/minus of at least plus-20.
  • Both teams scored 48 points in the paint.
  • The Celtics led from start to finish, with the largest lead being 19.
  • Boston outscored Washington 25-12 in fast break points.

Quote of the Night

Paul Pierce on the importance of tonight's game: "This is a big game for us when you are talking about seeds and trying to advance in the playoffs. It’s huge."