BOSTON – With the score tied at 37-all in the second quarter, the first significant dust-up between Boston and Washington players happened.
It was Boston’s Terry Rozier and Washington’s Brandon Jennings getting into a shoving match that ultimately led to both being whistled for technical fouls and Jennings also charged with a personal foul.
Up to this point, neither team had shown any signs of pulling away.
But from the time the dust cleared and play resumed, the Celtics weren’t the same.
- Highlights: Boston Celtics 110, Washington Wizards 102
- Blakely: Victory over Wizards is much more than 'just another win' for Celtics
- Isaiah Thomas on Wizards: 'Those guys don't like us, we don't like them'
- Stars, studs and duds: Bradley shines at both ends of the floor
- Big second quarter propels Celtics to 110-102 win over Wizards
They were more physical, feisty, more locked in to doing anything and everything to beat a Wizards team that had won two of their three previous matchups.
And Washington couldn’t match that effort or intensity as Boston continued to pull away and lead by as many as 20 points before settling for a 110-102 victory.
“It sparked us a little bit,” Boston’s Jae Crowder said of the incident involving Rozier and Jennings. “We were able to play with a little more aggression.”
Boston scored six straight after the Rozier-Jennings technical, closing the half out with a 21-10 run to lead 58-47 at the half.
“When the emotions got high," Crowder said. "We kept the course and played great team basketball.”
And the emotions that Crowder spoke about, that has been an issue with the Celtics at various points this season.
Whether it’s losing their cool with other players, officials or one another, finding that balance that exists between playing with a fiery edge while not losing control, is one that that has tripped them up at times.
Not tonight; not against this team.
But players acknowledged after the game that there’s still room for improvement in that area.
“We gotta get better at that,” Boston’s Isaiah Thomas told CSNNE.com following the win. “Coach (Brad Stevens) is really on us about that and we’re on each other about that.”
On Monday, the Celtics were called for a total of four technicals – one against Rozier, Thomas, Amir Johnson and Marcus Smart – compared to the Wizards who were whistled for just the Jennings technical.
“In the playoffs, we’re not going to get anything,” Thomas said. “We just can’t continue to argue and continue to make us not play as well. We’re trying to get better. And today was one of those games where we held our composure a little bit better other than the technicals."