WASHINGTON (AP) — Earlier this month, the Washington Wizards frittered away a 23-point lead against the Boston Celtics but hung on for a grueling double-overtime win.
There was no repeat of that on Saturday night.
The Wizards ran off 13 consecutive points and took a 15-2 lead in the game’s first four minutes as they beat the Celtics 101-88.
Boston, which has lost four in a row is a much different team than they were 19 days ago, when they dropped that wild 133-132 game. They traded longtime point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Dec. 18, and are struggling to find their way.
“They weren’t going to let us back tonight,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “You could feel it, you could see it.”
Kris Humphries who played for Stevens last season led Washington, which has won eight of 10, with 18. Paul Pierce, the longtime Boston mainstay had 17.
With Rondo gone, none of Pierce’s teammates who won a championship with him in 2007-08 remains.
“They moved on. They’re in a rebuild phase,” Pierce said. “It’s a new era now.”
These Celtics were led by Jeff Green with 23. Jared Sullinger, who twisted his right ankle late in the game, wasn’t pleased with Boston’s lack of aggression.
“Teams are just coming out and smacking us in the mouth. People feel like we’re sweet, we’re soft. We’ve just got to play tough,” Sullinger said.
By the time the Celtics’ nightmare first quarter ended, they were behind 30-12 and outrebounded by 16-6 and had eight turnovers.
For the second straight game, John Wall scored on a spectacular spinning layup. Instead of the third quarter, this one was in the first as the Wizards took their decisive lead.
His moves are now expected by some of his teammates.
“Everyone’s waiting for it now. If he doesn’t do it, the fans might not be satisfied,” Humphries said.
The Wizards begin a season-long five-game road trip on Monday. They’ll play at Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and New Orleans.
“It is a test. We get a chance to play against some of the upper echelon Western conference teams. It will be a great measuring stick of where we are. We know we’re one of the upper-echelon teams in the East,” Pierce said. “This is an opportunity with the East being wide open for us to get to the finals. It gives us an opportunity to gauge where we are as an elite team in the league.”
Celtics: Boston is 1-4 since trading Rondo. . Sullinger said he didn’t believe his twisted ankle was serious.
Wizards: Coach Randy Wittman said it’s possible that swingman Martell Webster will return sometime on the road trip. Webster hasn’t played yet this season after June back surgery. . The 12 points allowed in the first quarter was a season-low.
HEY NOW, WALL’S AN ALL-STAR
Wall is leading all Eastern Conference guards in All-Star voting.
“You’ve got to go out and you perform as a team, you win as a team. All those other things take care of themselves,” Wittman said. “With success comes a lot of other stuff.”
A VOTE FOR WASHINGTON
Celtics coach Brad Stevens is impressed with what he’s seen with the Wizards. “I think they could win the East. I think there’s probably a couple of other teams that could, too. You look at the talent in the backcourt and the depth in the frontcourt,” Stevens said.
When Pierce was asked if Washington is an elite team, he answered: “Without question.”
Celtics: Host Sacramento on Wednesday.
Wizards: Visit Houston on Monday.
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