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Dealing with a three-game losing streak, and struggling against a troubled team, Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics turned to their defense to pull out a victory.
The Washington Wizards thought the Celtics got some extra help from the referees.
Garnett's 19 points led six Celtics in double figures, and Boston limited Washington to 2-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter en route to a 99-88 victory over the Wizards on Monday night.
"You're playing against the Boston Celtics, so you're not going to get a lot of calls. KG's going to set illegal screens; they're not going to be called. That's just part of the game,"
Wizards center Brendan Haywood said. "You're going to go to the basket, and if it's not basically just a straight-up WWF body slam, you're not getting the call."
Both teams took 36 foul shots. Washington was called for 24 personal fouls, one more than Boston.
Wizards co-captain Antawn Jamison was whistled for five fouls in the fourth quarter alone on an all-around rough night that started with his left knee feeling badly during warmups. He scored only eight points - 13 below his average - and shot 2 for 17 on field goals, 0 for 9 in the second half. He made 4 of 6 free throws.
"I thought the refereeing was inconsistent at times. I thought that 'Tawn got hit a few times. You don't go 2 for 17 in his situation and not get to the line more than six times," Washington coach Flip Saunders said.
"The guys were just really frustrated, especially 'Tawn, because of a lot of no-calls," Saunders added.
The Wizards led by eight points late in the third quarter, but the Celtics used a 16-4 run capped by Rasheed Wallace's 16-foot fadeaway jumper to go up 86-82 midway through the fourth.
Boston outscored Washington 25-10 in the final quarter, even though All-Star forward Paul Pierce sat out the period with what he said he thinks is a mild sprain to his left foot.
"Our offense has been sketchy in the fourth, and our defense has been worse. And today, I thought both things came through for us," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I told our guys with 5 minutes left, 'OK, if we don't score again, we've got to win the game. Let's just lean on our defense.' I didn't literally mean that, but I thought they had the focus on the defensive end."
His team prevented Washington from compiling its first three-game winning streak since April 2008.
Rajon Rondo had 17 points and 12 assists for Boston. Caron Butler led Washington with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
It looked a bit and sounded a lot as though it were a home game for Boston: Plenty of green jerseys and hats dotted the sellout crowd of 20,173, and the loudest cheers followed dunks by the Celtics.
It's been a trying season for the last-place Wizards, what with all the losing that began long before three-time All-Star point guard Gilbert Arenas was suspended for bringing guns into the locker room and joking about it.
Arenas and guard Javaris Crittenton were banned for the rest of the season by NBA commissioner David Stern last week; Washington won its next two games, but couldn't finish off Boston.
"Even though their record is dismal, they still have guys who can put the ball in the basket," Garnett said. "They have guys who are experienced. It wasn't like it was going to be an easy night."
This program aired on February 2, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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