There were moments in this game, however brief, that kept drawing me back in. There was Washington's 12-0 run late in the first half that made me think, "hey, the law of averages may start to kick in." There was just no way Boston, led by an out-of-body performance from their two big men, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk torch this team the way they had leading up to this point. And despite how discombobulated the Wizards offense looked, I still held out hope that they'd ease their way back in.
Shortly after that 12-0 run, Marcin Gortat would leave the game with his third foul, prompting Randy Wittman to bring in.... DeJuan Blair? It's one thing if it's the preseason game, or in a game that's already been decided, but this was a critical segment of the game, and as the saying goes, "you can't win a game in the first half, but you can lose it."
Blair would come in and immediately steal a pass from Avery Bradley, only to give it right back to Jae Crowder who converted the layup. Lead back to 19. On the following possession, he'd pick up an offensive foul, leading to another scoring possession by the Celtics as Isaiah Thomas draws a shooting foul on Ramon Sessions. Lead to 21. And finally, as if things couldn't get any worse, Blair ball-watches and loses sight of Kelly Olynyk, who receives the pass and deposits it for three. Lead to 23.
That's not what took the wind out of the Wizards' sails though. That moment wouldn't occur until midway through the third quarter, after Washington had strung together another timely run to cut the lead to 14. They ran the floor hard with Wall knifing his way into the lane in transition, leading to a few easy scoring opportunities at the basket, the most important of which: an Otto Porter And-1 of a beautiful off-ball cut while Marcin Gortat had set up on the block. Lead down to 14.
But there was those damn Celtics again. It started with an Avery Bradley three off a broken play, then two consecutive Jared Sullinger threes, both coming off pick-and-pop action, and then a loose-ball that Sullinger would snatch and somehow outlet it the length of the floor while on the ground to a wide-open Isaiah Thomas all by himself.
Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap. Do the Wizards need to get their turnover problem under control? Absolutely. Could Wittman have done a better job managing rotations, or at the very least pull Gortat off Sullinger in favor of a stretch-4 that wouldn't get burned so easily along the perimeter? It's possible, but it's not as if he has a ton of healthy bodies up front that's up to the task.
It's clear the Wizards are still searching for answers on both sides of the floor, which was expected, but what they can't afford is compounding those issues by shooting themselves in the foot. That's what happened tonight, let's hope they'll get it out of their systems in time for tomorrow's matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.