BOSTON — BOSTON -- Before last night's game at Boston Garden, this resembled a city under siege.
"Celtic Pride" was being seriously questioned, with Boston's favorite team mired in last place and in the midst of a six-game losing streak. All that seemed to be missing was Paul Revere riding through town shouting "One if by land . . ."
Coach Chris Ford was even heard to utter: "Right now, I don't like the guys wearing Celtics uniforms."
But law and order were restored with a vengeance. Picking on the injury-depleted Washington Bullets, who were minus three starters -- Pervis Ellison, Rex Chapman and Michael Adams -- the Celtics (3-8) breezed to a 150-112 victory.
Dunbar grad Reggie Lewis led Boston with 29 points on 14-for-17 shooting.
The last time the Celtics reached 150 points in regulation was 152 against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 26, 1990.
Rookie reserve Don MacLean paced the Bullets with a season-high 24 points. Rookie Tom Gugliotta scored 17 and Harvey Grant 16.
After three quarters, Boston had scored 110 points and built a 44-point lead. It was a bigger mismatch than America vs. Panama.
Everyone had a hand in the runaway. The Bullets' chief tormentor was point guard Dee Brown, who had been struggling offensively. Given a rare start, he responded with 22 points, 16 assists, seven rebounds and four steals.
The Bullets (4-7), who only last week had shown signs of coming together with a three-game winning streak, took a 4 1/2 -hour bus trip here following their game in New York Tuesday, arriving in Boston at 4 a.m. And they played like a tired team, always trailing the Celtics down the floor by a step or two.
When a Boston reporter gushed that few teams tonight could have beaten the Celtics, who shot a sizzling 62 percent (62-for-100) from the field, Bullets coach Wes Unseld put things in perspective.
"I'd like to come in here next time with my three starters healthy and see what happens. It just wasn't a team out there for us tonight. I had a kid starting [guard LaBradford Smith] who hadn't been played for two weeks. There was no defense, no intensity, no chemistry, no nothing."
The Celtics, of course, preferred looking on the positive side.
"We lost to them in Washington a week ago when they had two starters out," noted center Robert Parish, who played his 794th game as a Celtic last night and now trails only John Havlicek on the all-time list.
"Look," added The Chief, "We were going south for a long time and in a real funk. Sooner or later, we had to change direction. The main thing was for our young guys not to start hanging their heads over criticism."
The Celtics' youth corps finally did themselves proud. In addition to Brown, forward Rick Fox, making a rare start with Ed Pinckney shelved by knee surgery, provided 19 points and ran the dizzying Celtics break with Brown and Lewis.
But Brown, beginning his third year in the NBA, was definitely the catalyst, reacting positively to the barbs of Ford, who had questioned his floor leadership.
"Tonight, Dee did a real good job of distributing the ball," said Parish. "What we've been lacking from our backcourt was creativity and breaking down the defense to get some easy shots. All that started to happen."
Brown said that he held a private chat with fellow point guard Sherman Douglas before the game and decided to just go out and play his game, and not worry about the consequences.
"I just went out and played like a guard, pushing the ball up the floor, taking it strong to the hoop and trying to get everyone involved," he said. "We played at a much higher energy level and everyone got in the flow right from the start."
That was a classic understatement. The Celtics flew out of the gate like a horse carrying a battery pack, racing to a 41-29 lead in the first quarter when they made 17 of 22 shots.
By halftime, they were still shooting a remarkable 70 percent from the field with four of their starters already in double figures.
Only Gugliotta (17 points, 11 rebounds), who was held scoreless in New York the night before, and Grant (16 points) provided any offense for the Bullets in the first half.
The second half was merely an exercise in seeing if the Celtics would surpass the 1971-1972 Milwaukee Bucks in administrating the worst beating ever (52 points), but they fell slightly short.
NOTES: Adams joined the Bullets wounded yesterday with a groin pull he suffered against the Knicks the night before. Both he and Ellison (knee) are listed as questionable for tomorrow night's game against Minnesota in Baltimore. Chapman (back) remains on the injured list.