Boston 113, Washington 111 in overtime, Game 41 of 82 (Wizards 20-21)
Washington came into this Wednesday night game after winning four of its last five contests. Boston had lost its last three, including a tough loss at Miami Tuesday night. In addition, the Celtics had lost their last ten consecutive road games. Furthermore, the Celtics would be without guards Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless. Washington was shooting for a record above the break-even mark.
Despite expectations, short-handed Boston followed Jeff Green’s lead in taking a large first-half lead. Washington was gallant in coming back from a 19-point deficit, but the Celtics (15-29) hung on to win in overtime. This was yet another tough loss for the Wizards at the end of the five-game home stand.
For the game, Washington shot 44.7% from the field, and accumulated 50 rebounds, 23 assists on 42 baskets, 10 steals, 18 turnovers and 4 blocked shots. John Wall achieved his second career triple double – 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists (though he shot 9-of-29 from the floor). Nene added 17 points and 9 rebounds. Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal added 14 points apiece. All five starters and substitute Martell Webster scored in double figures.
Boston shot 46.1% from the floor, and totaled 42 rebounds, 21 assists on 41 baskets, 15 steals, 18 turnovers and 8 blocked shots. Forward Jeff Green had a season-high 39 points, and added 9 rebounds. Rookie guard Phil Pressey added 20 points and 4 assists before fouling out in overtime. Jared Sullinger added 14 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Boston came out strong to open the game. Green got nine points (including a pair of three-pointers) in the first four-plus minutes. Pressey added another eight points to stake the Celtics to a 32-22 lead at the end of the quarter. Washington came out sluggish, falling behind 30-17 with 1:41 left in the quarter. Wall led Washington with five points and three assists in the quarter.
In the second quarter, Boston played with even more intensity. Washington struggled to stay close. The Celtics opened the lead to nineteen – 53-34, with 3:43 left – on a Green jump shot. Kris Humphries closed out Boston’s scoring with a field goal and later two free throws to put his team up 61-43 at the half. Green had 19 at the half, and Pressey added 14. Green was 4-of-8 from three-point range, while Pressey was 4-of-5 from same. Washington seemed bewildered in trying to find a solution to the Celtics’ long-range barrage. Wall led Washington with 11 in the half, but was 3-of-14 from the field. Some fans started to file out, while those who remained seemed restless if not perturbed.
After the halftime break, Washington came out determined to get back in the game. Behind Nene and Wall scoring seven each in the third quarter, the Wizards outscored the Celtics 30-15 in the period to close the gap to 76-73, Boston. Washington turned up the defensive intensity, and used Boston’s turnovers and missed shots to get numerous run-outs.
Beal opened the fourth quarter with a jumper to cut Boston’s lead to one, 76-75. Sullinger scored eight in the period to keep the Celtics from wilting.
Green scored nine of his own, even as Washington tried different guys on him. Washington tied the game at 81 (9:02 left), 84 (7:45 left), 87 (6:37 left), 92 (4:06 left), 94 (2:58 left), 96 (2:08 left). Trevor Ariza’s three-pointer gave the Wizards a short-lived 99-96 lead with 1:39 left, but Green immediately came down and hit an off-balance three of his own to tie the game again. Both teams missed chances to win before the end of regulation.
Gerald Wallace hit two free throws at the start of overtime, and hit a driving layup over Martell Webster and Marcin Gortat for the winning points with 2.9 second left. In between, Green hit yet another three and a driving bank shot. Pressey hit a clutch three before fouling out with 13 seconds left. Nene scored six of Washington’s twelve overtime points, but it wasn’t enough.
Washington now heads out on a four-game western road trip – at Phoenix (Friday, 24 January); at Utah (Saturday, 25 January); at Golden State (Tuesday, 28 January); and at the Los Angeles Clippers (Wednesday, 29 January). Two back-to-backs, four formidable teams. And, oh-by-the-way, the next game after the road trip is a 1 February meeting with Oklahoma City. Washington is at the half-way point of the season, and it’s not gonna get any easier.
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