Boston kept pace in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt with a 111-106 win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday. The Celtics and New York Knicks are battling for the seventh postseason spot in the East.
Boston is trying for its first series sweep of Washington since the 1981-82 season, when it won all six meetings.
Paul Pierce had 32 points, including the game’s last five, and Marcus Banks had seven steals for the Celtics on Friday. Banks, a rookie first-round draft choice, was two steals short of the club record held by Pierce and Larry Bird.
“I told him his contribution, the 17 minutes, were the best minutes he played as a Celtic,” Boston coach John Carroll said.
“If (Pierce) gets support like he did tonight,” Welsch said, “that’s the best thing that can happen for our team.”
Washington fell to a league-worst 7-31 on the road with a 91-73 loss to Minnesota on Friday.
Jerry Stackhouse scored 14 points and Gilbert Arenas added 12 for Washington, which owns the NBA’s third-worst overall record. The Wizards lost their fifth straight game, with Stackhouse and Arenas combining to shoot 10-for-34 from the floor.
“We really don’t look for excuses,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “We could have executed and stayed organized.”
Once again, Washington was short-handed. Guard Larry Hughes, sitting out with a sore Achilles’ in both feet, was the most notable absence.
Kwame Brown was also missing because of a sprained left ankle. Juan Dixon’s return from a sprained right ankle gave the Wizards 10 healthy players, with Christian Laettner and Jarvis Hayes stuck on the injured list.
Washington’s top three scorers—Stackhouse, Arenas and Hughes—have started together only four times this season. Stackhouse had been coming off the bench recently to relieve the strain on his injured knee, but he has started two straight games because Brown is out.
STANDINGS (through April 2): Celtics - 3rd place (tied), 9 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Wizards - 6th place, 21 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Celtics - Pierce, 23.1 ppg and 5.0 apg; Blount, 7.0 rpg. Wizards - Arenas, 20.1 ppg and 5.1 apg; Brown, 7.4 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Celtics, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: March 13; Celtics, 111-102. At Washington, Pierce scored 13 of the Celtics’ final 25 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Celtics - 17-20 on the road; Wizards - 16-22 at home.
INJURIES: Celtics - F-C Raef LaFrentz. Wizards - F-C Laettner (back); F Hayes (hamstring); F Brown (ankle); G Hughes (Achilles’).