For the fifth time this season, the Washington Wizards attempted to go above .500 and fell short, this time by way of a 113-111 loss to the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.
John Wall recorded his second career triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, but his achievements were soured by a missed potential game-winner at the buzzer in overtime.
The Wizards haven’t seen the view from above .500 since October 2009. This season alone they came as close as 0-0, 9-9, 14-14, 19-19 and 20-20.
Their latest attempt proved a valiant effort, if only in the second half.
Without Rajon Rando, Jerryd Bayless and Avery Bradley, the Celtics entered the game as if ready to record their 11th straight road loss. Instead, however, the Celtics’ Jeff Green had a stellar night as he posted 39 points, nine rebounds, three steals, a block and an assist.
Boston carried a 10-point lead into the second quarter, thanks in part to Green’s early 10 points. The margin only widened and, after Green went back-to-back with a finger roll layup and a jumper, Boston took a 19-point lead with less than four minutes left in the half.
The Celtics handed the Wizards some free baskets and yet Washington could only narrow the deficit to 18 points into halftime.
“First half we came out as individuals, no one would pass the ball to one another,” Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said after the game. “We dribbled the ball all over the place and then when we did pass it, it was to a guy with two seconds on the shot clock behind the three-point line. ‘I was going to get mine tonight. I was going to get mine.’ First half. We’re not good enough for that.”
Yet, the Wizards did bounce back. Trevor Ariza came up big with two early threes in the third quarter before Bradley Beal’s running dunk pulled Washington within 12 points. The onslaught continued as Beal and Nene posted back-to-back jumpers. Brandon Bass attempted to spoil the fun with a fadeaway shot, but Beal and Nene continued with the one-two punch routine long enough to narrow the Celtics’ lead to five points.
With 5:32 remaining in the quarter, John Wall came up with a timely jumper but Green and Bass kept Boston in front for the full 12 minutes.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter, however, the Wizards finally tied things up on a jumper by Beal. Green answered with a three for Boston, but Trevor Booker’s layup and-one evened the score once again.
The two teams kept things neck-and-neck until the very end. With 1:39 remaining, Trevor Ariza’s three-pointer put Washington on top 99-96 but, just 20 seconds later, Green answered with one of his own to tie it.
The Wizards remained in the thick of it in overtime. Gerald Wallace made two free throws to start the extra five minutes, but Wall answered with a pull-up jumper to tie it.
And then, it became clear the competition would be decided – one way or another – from three-point range.
Green made a three-pointer with 3:16 remaining, but Nene only answered with a low-range jumper. From there, the Celtics remained one foot in front of the Wizards until Martell Webster sank a three to tie things up.
Phil Pressey kept the song and dance going with a three of his own and, once again, the Wizards answered with two.
Marcin Gortat earned two free baskets – only to miss the second to keep things tied, 111-111 with 13.9 seconds left to play.
Wallace made an all-too-easy layup with 2.9 seconds remaining to set Wall up for the all-or-nothing three-pointer.
Wall’s three bounced off the rim to send the Wizards packing for Phoenix with a 20-21 record and a 10-11 record at home.
“We didn’t show up in the first half but fortunately we played well in the second half, but it wasn’t enough,” Nene said after the game. “Jeff Green was balling tonight… But at the end of the game we needed to play smart. We need to understand who we guard, and we need to understand our opponent’s weaknesses and strengths. They made tough shots and we didn’t think. We had another chance but that win escaped from our hands, but we can learn. It’s a tough loss.”