Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points after missing the previous two games with a bruised right knee, leading the Celtics to a 110-102 victory over the Wizards in another testy matchup Monday night between two of the top teams in the East.
"We knew it was going to be one of those games," Thomas said. "With that team it’s always going to be a physical game, always going to be trash talking and things like that. We’re basketball players. We love it. We love that type of environment, but we’ve got to be smart about the things we do and we did a good job tonight."
Avery Bradley added 20 points and nine rebounds for Boston, which moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the Wizards for second place in the East. The Celtics trail first-place Cleveland by two games.
"You didn’t have to say much to get ready for this game," Boston coach Brad Stevens said.
Jae Crowder and Al Horford each had 16 points and nine boards.
Bradley Beal led Washington with 19 points, and John Wall had 16 points with eight assists.
"I think it’s the same as the last game. There were just a couple technicals this game, but other than that it was a clean game," Wall said. "Nobody did anything dirty. Just two teams that (are) playing physical, fighting for a seeding, know where they want to be and just playing hard."
Behind Thomas’ 12 third-quarter points, Boston pushed an 11-point halftime lead to 92-75 after three.
The Wizards trailed by 15 with just more than four minutes left, but closed to 106-100 on Kelly Oubre Jr.’s steal and breakaway dunk with 2:05 to play.
Marcus Smart had a basket and two free throws to seal it.
The bad feelings built up between the teams this season resurfaced briefly midway into the second quarter. Washington’s Brandon Jennings bumped into Terry Rozier a few times under the basket before Rozier pushed him to the floor near midcourt. Both got a technical.
"I just think it was a physical game," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "They’re a physical team. They’ve got a couple of guys that play very physical."
In the last meeting at TD Garden in early January, Crowder and Wall had words at the end of the game. Crowder pointed his finger in Wall’s face, and Wall slapped at him.
When they met in Washington on Jan. 25, the Wizards wore what they called "funeral black" to the game before picking up the win.
The Celtics used a 16-5 run midway into the second to help them build a 58-47 halftime edge.
Wizards: F Markieff Morris (illness) returned to the starting lineup after missing the past two games. … Wall came up limping after a driving, spinning basket in the third quarter, but stayed in the game. … Washington committed a season-high 28 fouls in losing for the fourth time in five games.
Celtics: Thomas hit a 3-pointer for a club-record 45th straight game. … Boston opened a stretch of six straight at home and plays only three road games the rest of the regular season.
There were four Boston police officers along the walls between the doors to the locker rooms when the media was allowed down the hall after the game. Usually, there is one or none. The doors are about 15 feet apart with a black curtain in the middle.
ON THE BOARDS
Boston outrebounded the Wizards 54-39, collecting a season-high 20 on the offensive glass.
With the Celtics healthy again, Stevens said the final weeks of the regular season give his team a chance to get stronger playing together.
"We just haven’t had a ton of time with ourselves fully healthy," he said. "We have to make sure that we utilize this time appropriately for our team to get better. Regardless of who we’re playing against, there aren’t any secrets."
Wizards: Host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Washington has won two of the three previous meetings this season.
Celtics: Host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. Boston has beaten Indiana twice this season, with Thomas leading the team in scoring both times.