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This season's Boston Celtics led by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are 21-2, the best start in the storied franchise's history.
Better than any Celtics team led by Bill Russell or Larry Bird.
Better than any Celtics team coached by Red Auerbach.
Still, that doesn't necessarily mean the current group thinks it's any better than the team that won the most recent NBA championship.
And it certainly doesn't mean they're above looking for a little extra motivation here and there, even when it comes to playing the worst-in-the-East Washington Wizards.
After all, not only did Washington win three of four games against Boston last season, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers overheard his players chatting before Thursday night's 122-88 victory about something a member of the Wizards had said.
"It doesn't take them much. I swear they, like, search the newspapers to find something," Rivers said. "I didn't need to give a rah-rah speech."
Not with this roster.
Allen and Pierce scored 22 points apiece, Garnett had 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, and seven Celtics scored in double-figures in the team's 13th consecutive victory. It's Boston's longest winning streak since a 14-game run in 1985-86.
"We came in here with a little something on our shoulder, too," said Garnett, who sat out the fourth quarter to rest up for Friday's home game against Chris Paul and Southwest Division-leading New Orleans. "To be honest, Washington have played us probably the best of any of the teams in the league. They've got a little swag with them, so tonight, there really wasn't much to be said."
Caron Butler scored 19 points for the Wizards, who matched their franchise's slowest start by dropping to 4-16 for the first time since the 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets.
"You saw the best team in the league," Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said. "And in case you weren't watching, it wasn't us. It was them."
In the only other NBA games Thursday night, Dallas beat Charlotte 95-90, and Utah beat Portland 97-88.
The Wizards led 12-11 about 4 1/2 minutes in on a 9-foot floater by Antawn Jamison.
That's when Allen, and Boston, got in gear. He completed a four-point play to start a 19-5 run, putting the Celtics ahead 30-17 with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter.
Allen scored 13 points in the first quarter with four 3s, combining with Pierce's 10 points to outscore the Wizards all by themselves. The period ended with the Celtics ahead 36-21. Washington never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
"They punched us in the mouth," Tapscott said. "It's like Mike Tyson says, 'Everybody's got a plan, until they get punched in the mouth. Then you'll find out if the plan holds or not.' They punched us in the mouth, and our plan didn't hold. So we've got to strengthen our plan."
And as for the Celtics' plan? How does it compare to a year ago?
"We're winning games, but I don't know if we're better," Rivers said. "Matter of fact, I would say we're not yet."
Pierce, who contributed eight assists and six rebounds and went 12-for-12 on free throws, isn't quite ready to make the comparison.
"We don't know yet. That question is yet to be found out," he said. "It's just only a quarter of the season over with. Ask me April 18, and I'll give you a better answer."
That, of course, is the day the playoffs begin.
This program aired on December 12, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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