Celtics-Wizards Preview

The Associated Press

Four times this season, the Washington Wizards have had a chance to win a game that would put them over .500.

All four times they have lost.

On Wednesday night, the Wizards have a fifth chance to crack the break-even mark when they host the struggling Boston Celtics.

'It's not a magical thing (where) I think all of a sudden fairy dust is going to fall on us if we get over .500 (and) we're not going to lose another game,'' Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "We just got to continue to play the right way. That's all I want to do."

The Wizards (20-20) have won four of five to get in position for their first winning record since Oct. 31, 2009, when they were 2-1.

Improved defense has been the biggest key lately for Washington, which has held its last five opponents to 96.2 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting, both improvements on the team's season averages.

A strong rebounding effort led to a 107-99 win over Philadelphia on Monday. The Wizards pulled down 53 boards, leading to 44 points in the paint and 12 second-chance points. Bradley Beal led the way with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, while Marcin Gortat chipped in with 19 points and 11 boards.

In its four previous chances to eclipse the .500 mark, Washington lost to Detroit twice, along with Milwaukee and Dallas. Three of those games were at home, as will this matchup against a Celtics team that has lost its last 10 road contests.

"Every time we talk about being a .500 team and finally getting over .500, we have teams coming in here and just punking our butts," Gortat said. "We're done with that. We just have to focus on what we need to do to win a game."

Boston (14-29) has dropped three straight games and 15 of its last 17 overall. The issue in Tuesday's 93-86 loss at Miami was poor outside shooting, as the Celtics missed 22 of 27 from 3-point range.

Brandon Bass scored a team-best 15 points off the bench, with Kris Humphries adding 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Chris Johnson, who was called up from the D-League and was signed to a 10-day contract Friday, made his Boston debut, scoring a career-high 11 points off the bench.

"He brought a lot of energy," Bass said of Johnson. "He showed a lot of hunger. If he keeps playing like that, he'll have a future in this league."

The team is still trying to break in point guard Rajon Rondo, who returned Friday after missing the start of the season rehabbing from ACL surgery. Rondo played a season-high 25:43 against the Heat, but missed all eight of his field-goal attempts and finished with one point.

Boston's 10-game road skid is its longest since a 12-game slide Jan. 7-Feb. 24, 2007.

The Wizards ended a seven-game losing streak to the Celtics with a 106-99 road victory Dec. 21. Boston has won three straight in Washington.

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