Washington fans didn’t get the storybook ending they wanted for the home opener, as the Boston Celtics jumped out to a lead early in the first quarter and were able to hold off a late Washington Wizards rally to win 89-86.
The first quarter could not have started any worse for the Wizards, as the Celtics grabbed a commanding 17-2 lead. Washington struggled to find open shots and their only two points came from a goaltending call on the Celtics’ Kevin Garnett. Meanwhile, Boston was able to bottle up the shooting lanes on defense and got the space needed to set up their offense.
“Another start to a game, obviously, that got us deep in a hole that again we fought, played, scratched to the end to try pull this thing out and just couldn’t,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said after the game. “We just got blitzed again at the start of the game and before you know it we were 16 down.”
It took more than ten-minutes for the Wizards to finally drop one in the basket on a Tervor Booker drive to the lane. His rush and finger roll up the middle resulted in a foul and after knocking down the free throw, cut the deficit to 17-5 to gave Washington’s offense a little bit of life.
With the big three of Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal and Emeka Okafor playing like absolute non-factors, it was up to the bench to get the Wizards back into the game. Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin were able to shrink the Boston lead to as few as five points in the second quarter. The pair combined for 20 points, three rebounds and three-assists in the first half. Another major contributor on the offense, and the only starter to really leave a mark on the first, was Booker who netted nine-points with three-rebounds.
Boston maintained much of its flow for most of the first two quarters. Paul Pierce was given as much space as he seemed to want, taking 11 shots, including three three-pointers. Guard Rajon Rondo was the real engine behind the Boston machine though, going 3-4 from the floor with two threes and six assists.
Coming out in the third, the Wizards went away from the game plan that helped them get back into the game in the second, driving the lane. As a whole, the team opted for deep jumpers and threes instead of trying to drive the lane.
Boston was content to let the Wizards continue their poor shoot-selection and stagnant defense for most of the quarter and extended the lead to 65-52 after Rondo caused a turnover and drove the basket for a reverse layup. Washington took a timeout and came out of it still shooting the jumper, but at least worked it to Seraphin and Crawford who continued to stay red-hot for the red, white and blue.
In the closing moments of the third, Washington closed within two-points of the Boston lead after a pretty play from Seraphin and a Crawford two made it a 69-67 game. Crawford kept the Wizards in the game, but did have the opportunity to let them win it, as a hard foul by Jeff Green sent Crawford to the line and then to the locker room with a sprained ankle and returned later after it was taped up.
Jannero Pargo stepped up in Crawford’s absence, hitting two key jumpers to keep the Wizards within six of the lead with just over six-minutes to go. Just as it looked like the Celtics were going to start to pull away, Cartier Martin decided to get involved with a big three followed up by a steal and score to cut the lead to three. Pargo made it a whole new ballgame after a three from the top of the key made it 84-84 with a little over three minutes to play. After taking a brief two-point lead, the Celtics followed up with a three-pointer of their own to regain the lead.
The Verizon Center exploded when it thought the Wizards had taken a one point lead, but a foul by Rondo negated the points and reset the possession, which the Wizards promptly threw away out of bounds with thirty seconds left. Garnett followed up with a fade away two that rimmed out giving the Wizards the ball with 4.5-seconds left down 87-86. Martell Webster grabbed the inbounds pass and took a contested three that ended up short, ending the Wizards’ hope for a comeback.
“I thought I had a good look, thought there was a little bit of contact but that is just a shot I know I am very capable of making,” Webster said after the game. “I wish I could relive it to tell you the truth, to be a little bit stronger, a little more aggressive with it.”
With the loss, the Wizards drop to 0-2 on the year, heading into a rematch with the Celtics on Wednesday in Boston.