WASHINGTON - Paul Pierce scored 27 points, Rajon Rondo had 12 points and 12 assists and the Boston Celtics finally found their way to victory by outlasting the Washington Wizards 89-86 on Saturday.
Kevin Garnett finished with 15 points for the Celtics (1-2), who avoided a second straight 0-3 start to the season.
Several times Boston appeared in control with double-digit leads, including a 10-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter, only to see the undermanned Wizards claw back, led by their bench.
Jordan Crawford paced the Wizards (0-2) with 21 points and Kevin Seraphin scored 19, including a mid-range jumper that gave the Wizards their first lead at 86-84 with 2:56 remaining. On the next possession, Pierce put Boston back on top for good with a 3-pointer, his fourth of the game.
The Wizards faltered late offensively, turning the ball over on consecutive possessions inside the final minute.
Boston had its own issues, missing its last three shots from the field, including Garnett's jumper with five seconds remaining. Washington regained possession with 4.5 seconds left but could only get a contested fadeaway jumper from Martell Webster that fell short.
Jason Terry sank two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining as the Celtics won their fifth straight against the Wizards.
Coming off an 11-point home loss to Milwaukee on Friday, Boston started like an angry team, or at least a very efficient one. From the opening tip the Celtics controlled both ends of the court and raced to a 17-2 lead.
Boston assisted on 10 of 12 baskets and led 26-12 after one quarter.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman turned to his bench late in the opening quarter, and Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Crawford led the reserves on a second-quarter rally. Seraphin drilled consecutive hooks that capped a 13-4 run and pulled Washington closer at 34-30. With the rising third-year center's hot hand, the Wizards made 14 of 21 shots in the second quarter after shooting 21.1 percent (4 of 19) in the first quarter, including misses on 12 of their initial 13 field goal attempts.
Not known for his perimeter touch, Rando helped slow the Washington momentum with consecutive 3-pointers, and the Celtics entered the halftime locker room with a 49-42 lead. Pierce paced the Celtics with 12 points while Seraphin and Crawford each scored 10 for the Wizards.
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Notes: Boston started rookie power forward Jared Sullinger in place of Brandon Bass. Sullinger is a former Ohio State star and the Celtics' first-round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft . . . Washington's bench scored 28 of the team's 42 first-half points and 62 overall. ... These same two squads play again Wednesday in Boston for the second of three meetings this season.