Jayson Tatum-less Celtics have no problem fending off the Wizards

Jayson Tatum-less Celtics have no problem fending off the Wizards

Updated: 3 months, 23 days, 4 hours, 8 minutes, 54 seconds ago






BOSTON — Wes Unseld Jr. had his concerns before the game, and that was knowing the Boston Celtics would be without their best player. The Washington Wizards’ coach anticipated a barrage of three-pointers from the team with the league’s top record, one that also ranked second in three-point percentage.


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The absence of Jayson Tatum to rest a sprained ankle would affect the Celtics’ biggest strength, it seemed, but Unseld warned against such thinking 90 minutes before the game. When it began, he was absolutely right.

Boston made 11 3-pointers in the first half as it built a 17-point halftime lead and cruised to a 130-121 victory Sunday night. The loss was the third in a row for Washington. The Wizards (10-10) return home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday after all three losses came away from Capital One Arena.


Both teams were efficient in the first half, but the Wizards essentially traded twos for threes. Eight of the nine Celtics who played in the first half made a three-pointer before halftime as they shot 47.8 percent from behind the arc. The Wizards shot 51.2 percent from the field before halftime but just 27.8 percent on three-pointers.

A 14-3 stretch midway through the first quarter gave the Celtics a nine-point lead that was pushed to 14 in the second quarter on Jaylen Brown’s first three-pointer. Serving as the Celtics’ No. 1 option, Brown finished with a season-high 36 points. Boston (16-4) led 72-55 at halftime, and the Wizards never made a run in the second half.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 30 points and added five rebounds and four assists. Kristaps Porzingis had 21 points.

The Celtics’ Malcolm Brogdon poured in 17 points off the bench to go with six rebounds and four assists. Marcus Smart had 14 points, seven assists and four rebounds as seven Celtics scored in double figures.


Here’s what else to know about the Wizards’ loss:


The Wizards were without Kyle Kuzma (back), Rui Hachimura (ankle) and Johnny Davis (groin) but got Monte Morris (ankle) back. Morris returned after missing three games; he started Sunday night and finished with 16 points and eight assists.

The DNP was the first of the season for Kuzma, who had started all 19 games and was tied with Porzingis as the team’s second-highest scorer at 20.3 points.

“I wouldn’t say it was an injury,” Unseld said. “He’s played a lot of minutes. He was complaining of a sore back into yesterday evening, got some treatment this morning. ... Got treated again after the ballroom walk-through.”

Boston was without three-time all-star Tatum, who got a rest day. He was listed as questionable Wednesday but played that night and Friday before interim coach Joe Mazzulla held him out Sunday. Tatum is averaging 30.5 points.


“We'll collaborate together on what we think is important for him and our team in the short term and long term,” Mazzulla said.

Grant Williams got the start in Tatum’s place and scored five points.

Rotation tweaks

Taj Gibson played his second-most minutes of the season with 12 off the bench, which cut into Daniel Gafford’s time on the floor. Gibson finished with 12 points; Gafford had four points and three rebounds in six minutes.

Guard Devon Dotson made his first appearance of the season and went scoreless with four rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes.