Game Preview: Celtics at Wizards

The Washington Wizards appeared to abandon their unselfish play in the opener of a home-and-home with the Boston Celtics and it cost them their winning streak.

Coach Randy Wittman hopes it was only a temporary lapse.

Washington seeks its fifth straight home win Monday night when it closes the set against Boston at Verizon Center.

The Wizards (13-6) started slow Sunday in Boston, missing 14 of their first 18 shots and getting outscored 53-36 in the first half of a 101-93 loss. Washington trailed by 25 at one point before pulling within one on John Wall's layup with 1:12 left.

They might have completed the comeback behind their usual brand of basketball, but the Wizards had just 21 assists - one of their lowest totals this season and 8.5 fewer than their average during a four-game winning streak preceding the loss.

They also committed 19 turnovers after averaging 13.8 during the streak.

Washington shot 36.6 percent from the field. Paul Pierce, who had 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting against his former team, was the only starter to shoot better than 40 percent. Wall, Kris Humphries, Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal combined to go 16 for 53.

"For whatever reason, after winning four in a row and playing the way we have, moving the ball and sharing the ball, we came out tonight as individuals," Wittman said.

The Celtics (7-11) won a season-best third straight to improve to 2-10 against teams .500 or better, while Washington fell to 10-2 against sub-.500 clubs.

"I think they're a legitimate contender out of the East," coach Brad Stevens said. "This is great for us to have to play 96 minutes in a row against this team."

Boston is 2-0 on the second game of back-to-backs, while Washington is 4-1.

The Celtics have held their last three opponents to an average of 97.0 points and 38.0 percent shooting after allowing 108.0 on 47.5 percent during a five-game skid.

Sunday marked another instance where Boston flirted with disaster after grabbing a large lead. The Celtics blew a 23-point advantage in Tuesday's 109-105 loss at Atlanta and squandered a nine-point edge with 53 seconds left the next day against Detroit before pulling out a 109-102 victory in overtime.

"That's twice this week that we've handled it better, once we didn't," Stevens said. "I just thought we played gutsy at the end."

Jeff Green scored 25 points and is averaging 25.3 while shooting 50.7 percent over his last four games.

Rajon Rondo recorded the 21st triple-double of his career and his second against Washington with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, though his shooting woes continued. He's 18 for 66 (27.3 percent) from the floor in his last six after going 5 for 17 Sunday.

Wall scored 17 points and had his fourth straight game with at least 12 assists, finishing with 14. He has averaged 21.2 points in six career home games versus Boston.

Rasual Butler continues to give Washington a spark off the bench after scoring 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. He has scored at least 14 in five of six games after doing so once in his previous nine. Butler is shooting 54.5 percent from 3-point range.

The Wizards are 9-2 at home with their last three victories there coming by an average of 22.3 points.


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