BOSTON — The surprising first-place Boston Celtics moved closer to the .500 mark by pulling out a 101-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
The win, Boston’s second straight and eighth in the past 12 games, raised the Celtics, a team that was expected to be fighting for a lottery spot, to 12-14 on the season.
Forward Jared Sullinger hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put Boston ahead to stay with 2:22 left. He went 4-for-6 from the foul line over the final 17.9 seconds to put the game away.
The Timberwolves, playing without guard Kevin Martin (knee) and his average of 20.6 points per game, fell to 12-13.
Sullinger led Boston with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Guard Avery Bradley, who scored the first six points of the game, had 19 points and five rebounds, and guard Jordan Crawford added 15 points for the Celtics. The Boston bench chipped in with 35 points.
Forward Kevin Love, who had a poor shooting night (9-for-26 from the floor, 2-for-11 from 3-point range), led the Timberwolves with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Timberwolves reserve guard J.J. Barea, a Northeastern University product, had a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists.
The Minnesota bench scored 45 points.
The Celtics earned their seventh consecutive home win in the interconference series.
Rookie forward/center Kelly Olynyk, 4-for-22 from 3-point range entering the game, drained both of his long-range attempts in the first half as the Celtics built an early nine-point lead. Boston had to hold off the Wolves to lead by one at halftime.
The visitors, who had 10 offensive rebounds in the half, hurt themselves at the foul line, going 11-for-19 in the first two quarters. Both trends continued in the third quarter, when the Celtics grabbed the lead with a 9-0 spurt and led by five at the end of three.
The win raised the Celtics’ record on their current five-game homestand to 2-1.
NOTES: Minnesota G Kevin Martin, bothered by a sore left knee that limited him to 19 minutes Sunday, didn’t dress Monday. “It’s something I’ve got to get right,” he said before the game. … Celtics G Rajon Rondo, making his way back from February ACL surgery, is practicing and will decide when he’s ready to play. “I think, ultimately, a person has to be ready and he has to feel good,” coach Brad Stevens said before the game. “There are certain physical things that he’ll have to meet to be cleared to even be considered for games, that he has not met yet. But nobody should make that call except for the individual involved, in my opinion.” Stevens has indicated Rondo will make a January return. … The Celtics continue their homestand against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, while the Timberwolves host the Portland Trail Blazers the same night. … Boston F Kris Humphries returned after missing two games due to a knee injury.
Wizards 102, Knicks 101
Small forward Martell Webster scored 30 points off the bench, and guard Bradley Beal had 21, including the game-winning layup with 6.9 seconds remaining, as the Washington Wizards snapped a four-game losing streak with a 102-101 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.
Point guard John Wall had 20 points and eight assists for the Wizards (10-13), who lost their previous 10 games against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Returning to action after missing nine games with a stress injury in his right leg, Beal sank a 3-pointer to tie the game at 100-100 with 45 seconds remaining. After guard Beno Udrih made one of two free throws to put the Knicks in the lead, Beal drove past Udrih on an isolation play along the left wing.
Small forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks (7-17) with 32 points, but he missed a running 3-point attempt at the buzzer. New York guard J.R. Smith broke out of scoring slump with 18 points. He hit five of 11 3-point attempts.
The Wizards blew a 15-point third quarter lead and trailed by six in the same period. With Wall resting, Washington regained the advantage as Webster scored 11 points during a 23-9 run. Beal’s jumper with 5:53 remaining put the Wizards up 92-85.
The game of momentum swings saw the Knicks pull ahead 98-94 on a 13-2 run capped by Smith’s 3-pointer with 2:17 remaining.
Webster made six 3-pointers, and Washington finished 11 of 18 from beyond the arc.
Guards Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 14 points for the Knicks, and Udrih had 12.
Washington won for the first time this season without power forward Nene, who missed his fourth consecutive game with right foot tendinitis. The Wizards lost seven in a row overall without Nene. Dating back to last season, they are now 4-24 sans the Brazilian big man.