New York (AFP) – The Boston Celtics scored a bruising 110-102 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday to maintain their grip on second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points for the Celtics as Boston improved to 45-26 to stay in front of third placed Washington (42-28) in the standings.
Thomas admitted there was little love lost between the teams following a fractious encounter.
“Those guys don’t like us, we don’t like them, that’s what it is,” Thomas said.
The two teams’ three previous meetings this season had been dogged by physical altercations and trash-talking.
Monday’s night was no different, with players regularly exchanging barbs throughout.
“We knew it was going to be one of those games. We knew it,” said Thomas. “With that team, it’s always going to be a physical game, always going to be trashing talking and things like that.”
“We’re basketball players. We love it. We love that type of environment, but we’ve got to be smart about the things we do and we did a good job tonight.”
Of the five technical fouls called Monday, four went against Boston, with Thomas among those whistled.
The Celtics however were unfazed after securing an 11th home win in 12 games to move within two games of the conference leaders Cleveland.
“We definitely felt like we owed those guys,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley, who had 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists. “It was our job to come out here. Everything we went over in shoot around, we definitely executed it.”
The Celtics took control with runs of 12-0 and 16-5 to lead by 11 points at half-time, swiftly stretching the lead to 20 points in the third quarter.
The Wizards’ bench rallied early in the fourth quarter and closed the gap to six points before four points from Marcus Smart took the game away from them.