BOSTON (AP) — Andray Blatche had 31 points and 11 rebounds on Friday night as the Washington Wizards opened a 28-point first-half lead and held off a late flurry of 3-pointers from Nate Robinson to beat the Boston Celtics 106-96.
Backup JaVale McGee had 14 points with 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who have won four of six since snapping a 16-game losing streak.
Rajon Rondo had 17 points and 12 assists for playoff-bound Boston, which lost for the fifth time in seven games and was once again booed by the home crowd. The Celtics have lost four out of five at home — the only win in Boston in the last two weeks was Sunday’s overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Boston cut the deficit to six points in the final minute when Robinson hit three 3-pointers in a span of 18 seconds and added a layup that made it 99-93 with 42 seconds left. But he missed the next three 3-point tries — a couple of them off-balance and rushed — and the Celtics never got any closer.
The Celtics, who were 23-5 after beating Orlando on Christmas Day, are 26-25 since then. They dropped behind Atlanta in the race for the third spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race; the No. 4 team, if it wins its first-round series, would likely have to play LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the second round.
The Celtics trailed just 20-17 late in the first before giving up the last 10 points of the quarter, including Nick Young’s long 3-pointer at the buzzer that went off the backboard, knocked around the rim a little and fell in to make it 30-17. The Wizards scored the first eight points of the second quarter and, after a single Boston basket, extended the lead to 47-19 with 5 minutes left in the half.
The Celtics didn’t make a serious charge until coach Doc Rivers cleared his bench for the final minutes and Robinson started firing up 3s. He hit three in a row, and when the Wizards finally came out to challenge him he drove to the basket for a layup that cut it to six points.
But the Wizards hit their free throws, and Robinson stopped hitting the 3s to squelch the belated rally.
Washington long ago fell out of playoff contention, its season disintegrating when star Glibert Arenas was suspended for bringing guns into the locker room.
Arenas pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge in January, and has been suspended until the end of the season by the NBA.
At about the same time as the opening tip, Arenas reported to the Montgomery County jail to begin serving his sentence. He must spend two days there for medical screening and classification before being transferred to a halfway house.
A Wizards spokesman said the team would not comment.
NOTES: Celtics G Rajon Rondo was given the team’s Red Auerbach Award before the game for a player who exemplifies what it means to be a true Celtic. … The Wizards signed G-F Cartier Martin for the rest of the season. Martin originally signed a 10-day contract with the Wizards on March 30. …. Boston waived Marcus Landry, who was acquired along with Robinson from the New York Knicks in February.