Schedule Looks Promising

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January 1, 2005

OK, there's the Pistons in the Palace tomorrow night. That's no day at the beach. But after that, well, it looks like the Celtics have a good chance to make up some ground in the not-so-hot Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

That was the take after yesterday's 108-103 victory over the Wizards that snapped a three-game losing streak in which Boston fell four games under .500. (In the East, that's on the bubble.) But a brutal December (16 games in 31 days) ended yesterday and the Celtics emerged with an 8-8 record. Not bad, considering 10 games were roadies.

   After tomorrow night's game, the Celtics will play six of eight at the FleetCenter and the opponents give the locals some hope: New Orleans, Golden State, Detroit, Orlando, Atlanta, and Chicago.

The only two road games are at Chicago and Toronto.

The Celtics will play 16 games in January, but nine will be at home and only five are against teams that boast winning records today.

"It was good to get off the schneid. Now we've got a chance to do something with a nice little stretch coming up at home," Paul Pierce said, after helping the Celtics with a 26-point submission.

Not lining up

The Wizards were not pleased with the 34-10 differential in free throw attempts, including 20-1 in the second half. "I didn't get to the line, but there were a couple of times when I thought I should have gotten to the line," said Washington's Larry Hughes, who had 33 points. He actually did get to the line in the first half, making 1 of 2. Washington coach Eddie Jordan made vague references to the differential while saying he would like to be more specific if he knew he wouldn't be fined . . . The Wizards found out at game time that leading scorer Gilbert Arenas was unavailable because of the flu. Washington also was without Kwame Brown (right ankle tendon strain) for the second straight game and 15th overall. Additionally, the Wizards are still waiting for the first appearance of Etan Thomas, who has been out all season with an abdominal strain after inking a six-year, $36.77 million contract over the summer . . . Yesterday's win got Doc Rivers's record back to .500 as an NBA coach at 184-184 . . . Gary Payton was called for a double dribble in the first half, only to have the call quickly reversed after much complaining . . . Until yesterday, the Wizards were unbeaten (8-0) when they had more assists than their opponents. They had seven more yesterday . . . Tom Gugliotta was available after being activated Thursday from the injured list. Alas, Googs registered a DNP, as did Kendrick Perkins . . . Juan Dixon missed a breakaway layup in the second quarter. He left it just short . . . Yesterday was the second anniversary of the official handing over of the team from Paul Gaston to the new ownership group led by Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca, and the Abbey Group . . . Tony Allen was a difference-maker in the second quarter, scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds in just seven minutes. Included were a pair of 3-pointers, the first time this season Allen has connected from international waters. He had missed his first seven attempts going into the game . . . Hughes entered the game as the league leader in steals at 2.88 per game. He had one yesterday and has at least one in 25 of the 27 games he has played . . . The Red Cross had volunteers collecting for victims of the tsunami disasters in Asia. There will be volunteers at the next three home games as well.

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