Celtics take down Wizards, 104-88

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Celtics take down Wizards, 104-88

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON When you go through the great games in Boston Celtics history, chances are good - OK, great - that Friday night's 104-88 win over the Washington Wizards will not qualify as time capsule-worthy.

But the victory was significant, nonetheless.

Sure, the Wizards (21-58) are one of the league's worst teams and the Celtics (55-24) should have had no problem defeating them at home.

But on the back end of a set of back-to-back games?

Facing a bad team?

For most of this season, it has been a recipe for disaster.

And when you look at the way Boston allowed the Wizards to come within four points with more than seven minutes to play, there was a definite, 'here-we-go-again' feel about the game.

But that's when the Celtics showed us something we haven't seen much of lately - the ability to close out an opponent.

After Jordan Crawford's lay-up cut Boston's lead to 87-83, the C's responded by finishing the game with a 17-5 run.

"It was nice," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, referring to his team's ability to finish the game off strong.

However, he wasn't particularly pleased with the fact that a number of his players had to play extended minutes because the game became closer down the stretch than Rivers would have wanted.

"Too many minutes," Rivers said. "They (players) don't care about the minutes; I do."

One player whose minutes were not an issue on Friday was Jermaine O'Neal, who was held out by Rivers.

Rivers didn't like the way O'Neal was moving around in the second half of Boston's 16-point loss at Chicago, and made his mind at that time to not play O'Neal tonight.

"I just thought, 'let's not take any chances,'" Rivers said.

O'Neal, who has played in five games since returning to the lineup following left knee surgery on Feb. 5, is expected to play at Miami on Sunday and at Washington on Monday. If the Celtics can lock up the No. 2 seed after those two games, there's a chance that O'Neal will not play in the regular season finale against New York on Wednesday.

Even though all five Celtics started scored in double figures, once again they were being led by Rajon Rondo.

He finished with 20 points and 14 assists for his 31st double-double this season. Kevin Garnett also had a big game, tallying his 28th double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Paul Pierce led all scorers with 22 points, although he shot just 5-for-14 from the field.

The bulk of Pierce's points came from the free throw line, a clear indicator of how aggressive he was in attacking a porous Wizards defense.

"I try and make a concentrated effort every night in getting to the rim," said Pierce who made 12 of his 13 free throw attempts. "That's part of my game, I slash to the basket, finish it, try and get some easy ones. That's why I am able to shoot a high percentage."

Pierce wasn't the only Celtics player in attack mode, which is evident by them outscoring the Wizards 25-12 in fast break points.

Even with the Celtics doing a better job of attacking the woeful Wizards, and contributions coming from so many players, by no means was this an easy win for the Celtics.

"Every time we pulled away, they stayed just close enough," Rivers said. "And so, it was a win."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

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Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK - Russell Westbrook was voted NBA MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles last season.

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season, and he broke Robertson's single-season record set when he had 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

The point guard beat out Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.

Mike Giardi: People in Paul George's camp think Celtics are a great fit

Mike Giardi: People in Paul George's camp think Celtics are a great fit

Mike Giardi reports that there are some people in Paul George's camp that think the Boston Celtics would be a great fit, both short and long-term.

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