Here's your recap roundup for the Washington Wizards 107-96 loss Sunday night to the Boston Celtics. Be sure to check out our StoryStream for additional coverage, as well as postgame interviews with Randy Wittman, John Wall, A.J. Price.
The Wizards' playoff chances were officially dashed last week, placing them in position to chase minor goals, such as ninth in the conference. After defeating the Indiana Pacers on Saturday at Verizon Center, the Wizards needed to get a win over the Celtics to claim at least one win against the top eight teams. They lost the first two games against the Celtics by a combined nine points in November, when they didn't have either Nene or John Wall. Boston Coach Doc Rivers said before the game that he didn't even study film of those contests because of how much the team has changed.
''We play a team like this and when you're not playing great defensively you have got to be able to make shots,'' Wall said, ''and we had a tough night.''
The Wizards hit just 44.5 percent of their shots. But in the second half they connected on only 41.5 percent, while the Celtics made 64.5 percent.
The game opened up for the Celtics in the second half as they parlayed an early 13-1 run into an eventual 16 point lead at the end of three. The Wizards never got closer than 10 in the fourth and eventually lost by 11. The Wizards never found their rhythm on offense in the second half and the Celtics were very efficient on offense. The Celtics shot 55% in the game and the Wizards just 44%.
John Wall led the effort with a double-double, scoring 16 points and dishing out 10 assists. A.J. Price and Trevor Ariza came off the bench to score 15 and 14 respectively.
Washington's bench contributed well in this game, with nice performances by Trevor Ariza and AJ Price. Also worth noting was Kevin Seraphin's play. Seraphin tallied 10 points (5-for-6 from the floor) and four rebounds in 25 minutes of play. He also picked up only one foul - an accomplishment, indeed
Jan Vesely also got into the act, playing very active defense in the 4th quarter. He made a few pass deflections, a block, and caught an alley oop.
Celtics SG Jordan Crawford came off the bench in his first game against his former team and sparked them to their largest lead of the first half. Crawford made a fadeaway jumper in the lane to make the score 34-31, made a mid-range jumper on the next possession and stole a pass from Ariza that led to a basket. The Wizards were quickly behind 40-31. It was Crawford's only scoring as he finished with six points on 2-for-3 shooting. He also had two steals and three turnovers in 16 minutes of action.
The former Wizard wasn't looking for revenge. He wasn't looking to show the team that cut ties with him that it made a mistake. He had no other agenda when he came off the bench other than to help Boston win and continue his improved play since joining the Celtics so late in the season.
After accomplishing that goal, the former Wizard expressed gratitude to the organization that discarded him, thanked it for giving him an opportunity to prove his worth and then forcing him to get better after an unceremonious departure.
Some show of maturity from Jordan Crawford, right? Except the former Wizard wasn't Crawford.
It was Shavlik Randolph.
Unlike Crawford who has ill feelings towards his former team, Randolph is appreciative.
"I got outplayed by the people I was competing against," Randolph told CSNNE.com about his brief stint in Washington. "I'm the first in situations to be a man and own up when I've got outdone, and I didn't deserve to make the team over the people that made it over me. It was simple as that."
Many Wizard fans were particularly excited for tonight's game to see how Jordan Crawford, who recently stated he did not remember playing for the Wizards, would perform against the team he thinks he never played for. The former Wizard they should have been paying attention to proved to be Summer League stalwart, Shavlik Randolph. Randolph, who averaged 30 and 15 in China and attributed it all to the Wizards, proved to be the real former-Wizard threat, going for 8 and 7 in only 15 minutes and being labeled the second best big on the court for the Celtics by Celticsblog's Evan Clinchy. It's hard to argue that point. Randolph was great in his limited role and the Wizards were relatively lost all night.
Washington was able to cut the lead to ten with 3:58 remaining in the game but they were unable to get it any closer. Paul Pierce hit a key three-pointer from the corner with 2:38 to go to get the lead to 13. The next time up the court Brandon Bass scored his 20th point after nailing a 16-foot jumper, extending the C's lead to 15.
The bench was the story tonight, as they scored 42 points. Chris Wilcox led the bench with 13 points, along with five rebounds and two steals. Shavlik Randolph managed to chip in as well with eight points and seven rebounds.
Boston did a great job guarding John Wall around screens and playing him physically thoughout the entire game. Whenever Wall would get a screen, there was a wall of Celtics defenders ready to meet him and prevent penetration. The big played Wall soft and allowed the perimeter defender to do most of the work and force Wall in the direction that the Celtics wanted him to go.
Wall was one of three players to average over 23 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in the month of March. The other two were Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. For the Celtics to have guarded him so well should instill comfort in the hearts of Celtics fans.
Brandon Bass scored a team-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go along with six rebounds to pace a balanced Boston output that put five players in double figures for scoring. Kevin Garnett, back on the floor after missing eight games due to left ankle inflammation, finished with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block over a manageable 24 minutes of floor time (his night would have been 3½ minutes shorter, but Washington rallied a bit late). Paul Pierce, back after a one-game absence due to a sore right ankle, added 15 points and five assists over 30 minutes and was a team-best plus-15 overall. John Wall scored a team-high 16 points on 8-of-20 shooting to pace the Wizards.
With the Celtics ahead 87-71 after the third quarter, it was fair to wonder whether Garnett would return. He did. Starting the period, he added two more jumpers, one more defensive rebound and -- in an act that should probably result in more optimism than any other play Garnett made -- followed lightning-fast John Wall in transition well enough to alter his (ultimately missed) layup. When Garnett was replaced in the lineup with 6:28 left, head coach Doc Rivers probably felt that would be the All-Star center's night. But these are the Celtics. What fun would easy be?
"I feel good because I know when we're all out there and we're on, we're as tough as anybody in the East to beat, especially with Kevin's presence," Pierce said.
"We're not going anywhere without Kevin's presence, just to be honest with you. He's a big part of what we try to do out there on offense and defense. We play through him a lot. He anchors the defense. It's going to be important for him in these last few games just to kind of get his legs back and get going."
Not only did the Celtics (40-37) get their two star regulars back from foot injuries, Boston took a step closer toward clinching the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference as they lead the Bucks by two games in the loss column with five games left to play.