BOSTON -- The way Isaiah Thomas sees it, it's all pretty simple.
"Those guys don't like us, we don't like them, that's what it is," Boston's little big man said after scoring 25 points to lead the Celtics to a 110-102 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
It was the fourth game of the season between the Eastern Conference rivals fighting for second place behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. All four games, each won by the home team, have been physical, chippy affairs loaded with plenty of talking -- much of it not very nice.
"We knew it was going to be one of those games. We knew it," said Thomas, who returned from a two-game absence caused by a knee bruise. "With that team, it's always going to be a physical game, always going to be trashing 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."
There were five technical fouls in the game, four of them against Boston, one against Thomas. But when it ended, the Celtics had their 11th win in their last 12 home games and a 2 1/2-game lead over Washington for that second spot. They also moved back to two games behind the Cavs.
"We definitely felt like we owed those guys," said Avery Bradley, who had 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Boston. "It was our job to come out here. Everything we went over in shootaround, we definitely executed it."
The Celtics used runs of 12-0 and 16-5 to lead by 11 at the half, then opened it up to 20 in the third quarter.
The Wizards' bench made a bit of a run at the start of the fourth quarter, the Celtics answered and the Wizards, with their starters back in, got as close as six late before four straight Marcus Smart points putting the game away.
"I don't think it was chippy at all," Washington coach Scott Brooks said. "I just think it was a physical game. They're a physical team. They've got a couple of guys that play very physical. Put their hands on you and you have to be able to respond by hard cuts and be strong with the basketball. That's how they play."
Al Horford added 16 points, nine boards and five assists, and Jae Crowder had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Celtics (45-26, 24-9 at home). Smart finished with 10 points and Kelly Olynyk had nine points and a season-high 11 rebounds off the bench.
Washington (42-28) was guilty of a season-high 28 fouls.
"I think it's the same as the last game," Wall said of the nastiness. "There were just a couple technicals this game, but other than that it was (a) clean game. 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."
It was the Celtics' fifth straight home win over the Wizards.
"It was important for us," Bradley said. "Every single game is important for us."
Once just 5-5 at home, the Celtics have now turned TD Garden into a home paradise. And Monday night opened a six-game homestand and also a final stretch of nine of their last 12 at home.
With Thomas missing from their lineup, the Celtics, who hit at least 10 3-pointers in 26 straight games, one shy of the league record, had just 13 on 58 attempts in the two games. On Monday night, they went 10 of 33.
"Just 10 for 33, though, 30 percent again," Boston coach Brad Stevens said.
-- Boston G Isaiah Thomas extended his club record with a trey in his 45th straight game.
-- F Markieff Morris returned and started for the Wizards after missing two games because of illness. He had 14 points in 30:33.
-- Despite a strong game off the bench, Boston F Kelly Olynyk was called for three fouls in 35 seconds in the third quarter.
-- The Celtics ran up a 54-39 rebounding advantage and are 22-2 when not being outrebounded in a game.
-- The Celtics are 19-0 when leading after three quarters at home.
-- While the Wizards and Celtics have been going hard at each other this year, Washington coach Scott Brooks said this was "another game," noting, "Let's face it, everybody's fighting Cleveland. Cleveland's (the) defending champs."