Photo courtesy Patrick Pho
Yesterday I said the Wizards didn’t possess the perseverance to overcome a deficit in a Friday night loss to the Suns.
Last night they found it, and hung around to upset the Celtics in a thrilling 85-83 win.
There weren’t that many As to put up on the “Great Wall of Assists” (Wall had only four assists), in fact the sell-out crowd was so packed they couldn’t hang signs because there were too many standing room only patrons. John Wall ended a 16 point, 6 rebound game with a three-pointer with 57 seconds left in the game to put the Wizards on top for the first time all night. The team managed to hold on after the Celtic’s Paul Pierce tried for a last-second game winner of his own and missed.
“I felt good, got a great look- it just wasn’t my night,” the Celtics captain said post-game.
The game started with a 35-20 Boston lead in the first quarter and it started to feel like another bad night for the Wiz was in store. Washington dug deep and managed to hang around, battling their way throughout the night. After flirting within a point for most of the second half they managed to take the lead after the offense that kept Boston on top all night started to falter.
“We played hard, got a big lead and then I thought we went showtime,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said after the game, “I really thought we deserved to lose that game, I felt that way almost at halftime but definitely by the third quarter.”
Fouls struck both sides early and often. Both Paul Pierce and Glen Davis on the Celtics racked up five as well as Wall who made found himself in foul trouble early in the game and had to sit.
The Wizards were already shallow at Point Guard, Kurt Hinrich was inactive due to a elbow injury he sustained on Friday. This meant newly signed Musafa Shakur would make his NBA Debut early in that opening quarter. He played only 10 minutes but looked solid scoring five points and five assists. Wearing an ill-fitting jersey with his numbers still fresh from the press, he expressed excitement to finally play a game in the NBA.
“I thought they were trying to put my zip code on the thing,” Shakur joked after the game, “I’m just happy to have a Wizards jersey, happy to wear that NBA logo.”
The Celtics had no problem with offense, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett led the team with 17 and 16 points respectively. They just weren’t able to pull ahead with a big lead after the Wizards battled back from that opening deficit. The Celtics looked like they were cruising, content with a 10 point lead over Washington for most of the game. In the final quarter though The Celtics went 5-24 in the field, allowing the Wizards to come back from behind.
Reflecting on the second half Garnett quipped, “we had to get a bucket when we needed and we couldn’t.”
The Wizards learned a valuable lesson from Friday night’s loss- now let’s see if they can take this momentum into MSG on Monday when they take on the Knicks. Wall says he’s learning a lot after spending the weekend matched up against two of the best point guards in the league, which can only help him in his rookie season.
“It’s a great test for me- I’m learning, developing as much as I can.”
- Kevin Seraphin’s playing time has been going up over the past two games, both Friday and Saturday he was at the top of the rotation. Last night he didn’t do much with no points and one rebound but he appears to be earning his chances.
- Starting in Shaq’s place, Semih Erden only scored six points, but his 11 rebounds and impressive play in the Pick and Roll caught my eye. Boston fans should keep an eye on him.
- The Blatche vs. KG match-up looked heated at times, lots of physical play including a technical foul for Blatche after he placed a forearm on Garnett after he made a basket. Garnett was quick to dismiss the play as anything after the game. (he was also quick to dismiss the writer of this post but that’s for another day.)