The Washington Wizards have vaulted to the top of the Southeast Division thanks to their superb play at home.
The Wizards look to continue their strong play at the Verizon Center and win their 10th straight home game for the first time in nearly 18 years as they host the slumping Boston Celtics on Saturday.
Washington (23-16) opened this season just 4-9, but has won 19 of 26 games since Nov. 28 to move seven games over .500 for the first time since ending the 2004-05 season 45-37.
The Wizards moved ahead of Orlando for first place in the Southwest Division for the first time this season with a 99-98 win over New York on Wednesday, and increased their division lead to 1 1/2 games with a 114-93 victory over the Magic on Friday.
“We wanted to come out and show we have been in the playoffs the last two years and we can be the dominant team out here,” Gilbert Arenas said.
Friday’s win was Washington’s third straight victory, and the Wizards have been nearly perfect at home this season.
Washington has averaged 111.6 points during its home win streak and outscored opponents by an average of 9.4 points in improving its home record to 16-3—the best in the Eastern Conference.
The Wizards also won nine in a row at the Verizon Center from Jan. 28-Feb. 25 last season, but have not won 10 straight home games since a 20-game win streak from Jan. 19-April 7, 1989.
After scoring just 16 points in Wednesday’s win, Arenas bounced back with 30, seven rebounds and six assists on Friday to build on his MVP-caliber season.
Arenas is averaging 31.3 points during the home win streak, and has scored 40 or more points seven times this season.
The two-time All-Star had 44 points on 14-of-25 shooting in Washington’s 124-117 win over the Celtics (12-26) on Nov. 4, and is averaging 34.2 points in five games against them since the start of last season.
Wizards forward Antawn Jamison had 31 points and a season-high 16 rebounds against the Magic, and scored 29 points while grabbing eight boards against the Celtics earlier this season.
Washington has won two straight over Boston, and four of its last five against the Celtics.
While the Wizards are playing some of their best basketball of the season, the Celtics have lost 13 of their last 15 games. They lost to Sacramento 96-91 on Friday to match a season-high six-game losing streak.
Boston is averaging 84.8 points on just 40.4 percent shooting during its losing streak, and has not lost seven in a row since Feb. 9-25, 2004.
The Celtics had a chance to end their skid Friday, entering the fourth quarter with a five-point lead, but they failed to hold on.
“We pulled up and got nonagressive and they stole one from us,” Delonte West said. “We have to get stops, and we don’t have that mentality right now. And it’s going to continue to cost us games until we do.”
West led Boston with a season-high 25 points on Friday in his first game since missing four with a sore back. He shot 10-of-16 from the floor and added six assists in 39 minutes.
Al Jefferson had 23 points and 11 rebounds against Sacramento, and is averaging 17.7 points—4.2 points better than his season average—and 16.7 rebounds—6.3 better than his season average—in his last three games.