BOSTON — Jayson Tatum scored 35 points and sparked a third-quarter rally to help the NBA-leading Boston Celtics get their 40th win of the season, 133-129 over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Kristaps Porzingis added 34 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics (40-12), who reached 40 victories the fastest in a season since the 2008-09 squad did it in 49 games. It was Tatum’s 20th game this season in which he scored 30 or more points.
Deni Avdija had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Corey Kispert also scored 24 for the Wizards, who have lost five straight. Bilal Coulibaly finished with 21 points.
The Wizards stayed in it for most of the night, going 20 of 47 from the 3-point line. Washington led by as many as eight in the third quarter and closed within 131-127 in the final minute. But Boston was able to close it out at the foul line.
Trailing by six at the half, Boston opened the third quarter on a 15-8 run and regained the lead at 79-78 with a 3 by Porzingis. The flurry included a driving one-handed dunk by Tatum over Kyle Kuzma.
They were two of Tatum’s 13 points in the quarter as the Celtics outscored the Wizards 36-16, held Washington to 7-of-22 shooting from the field and forced six turnovers to take a 100-87 lead into the fourth.
It erased what started out as a promising night for the Wizards.
Washington led 71-64 at halftime, getting 19 points from Poole and 26 fast-break points against the NBA’s top-rated defense. Boston entered the night allowing opponents only 13.6 fast break points per game.
Poole’s burst came just a game after he was held scoreless for the first time since 2021.
The Celtics went 4 for 19 from 3-point range in the half. They shot just 11 of 24 from the field in the second quarter, with seven of their 13 missed field goals coming inside the paint.
Wizards: Host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
Celtics: At the Miami Heat on Sunday.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba