Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 83, Wizards 85
Celtics 83, Wizards 85
When tonight’s game began, it looked like it was going to be a long night for another Boston opponent. The Celtics came out of the gates firing and wound up scoring 35 points in the first frame while hovering around 70 percent shooting for the entire quarter. On the other side of the ball, Washington couldn’t buy a bucket, and that led to the C’s carrying a 35-20 lead into the second frame.
Something must have happened during that break before the second quarter, because Boston turned into a completely different team from that point on. Their second form, which was present for the final three quarters, turned this contest from a long night for the Wizards into “one of those nights” for Boston.
The Celtics scored 35 points in the first quarter, but only 48 over the final three quarters combined. Their point total dropped from 21 in the second quarter to 16 in the third to 11 in the fourth.
During that brutal fourth quarter, which was the worst offensive performance the C’s have had in any quarter this season, there were numerous signs that tipped us off that it was just one of those nights and the C's were doomed for a loss.
First, Ray Allen flew through the lane with no defender in sight and rose up for a dunk with 6:52 remaining that would have put Boston ahead by three. Instead, the ball slipped out of his hands as he went in for the slam and he missed the attempt off of the back of the rim.
Moments later, Kevin Garnett was left wide open for a 16-foot jumper that is usually money in the bank for Boston. This shot, however, wouldn’t fall and the C’s continued to cling to their one-point lead.
Garnett’s miss led to an offensive rebound by Glen Davis, and after the C’s ran 17 seconds off of the shot clock it looked as if he was going to be rewarded for the hustle. He caught a pass and seemingly had a wide open look at the basket, but then JaVale McGee swooped in out of nowhere to block the shot. McGee corralled the rebound and was immediately fouled by Davis.
Even though all of that took place over the course of a minute and a half, the Celtics were still able to hold onto their 77-76 lead. But it wouldn’t last for long, because the shockers just kept on coming.
Boston continued to miss shot after shot after shot, many of which were field goals the C’s would typically hit with ease. They shot just 5-of-23 in the quarter, but continued to stay in the game with solid defense.
We entered the final minute of play with the score tied up at 81-81 after Davis finally connected on a layup for the C’s. That shot fell through the net with 1:21 remaining, and the C’s would be hit with a back-breaker exactly 24 seconds later.
With the shot clock ticking down to zero on Washington’s ensuing possession, John Wall handled the ball on the right wing, about 30 feet away from the basket. It looked like it was a guarantee that the C’s would either force a shot clock violation or a miss. Wall, who shoots less than 30 percent from 3-point range on the season, avoided the violation by stepping into a shot from 27 feet. The shot flew through the air and had no shot of going in unless it accidentally banked off of the backboard. And it did.
With that, the C’s had fallen behind by three points with less than a minute remaining. The shot was a blow to Boston’s stomach, particularly because it had put together a fantastic defensive possession. Still, though, the C’s hung around with a KG layup on their next possession. Rajon Rondo then stole the ball from Wall at the other end with 18 seconds remaining to give the C’s one last shot to steal the win, but Paul Pierce missed a jumper from the left elbow to seal the win for Washington.
Everything was gravy in the first quarter for the C’s, but as the night wore on they were hit with numerous clues that this just wasn’t their night. Wall’s unintentional bank shot from 27 feet was the capper, and it snapped Boston’s five-game win streak.
Key Box Score Line
No Celtic scored more than 17 points tonight, and none were able to notch a double-double, either. The only player in the game who was able to accomplish both of those feats was Rashard Lewis of the Wizards, so he grabs hold of tonight’s Key Box Score Line.
Lewis’ arrival in Washington meant he was able to switch back to his more natural position of small forward. That position change meant that the C’s would no longer have Kevin Garnett defending him. Now it would be Paul Pierce.
Pierce struggled all night while trying to slow down the 6-10 Lewis. It was obvious that Lewis’ length and ability to post up was hindering Pierce’s effectiveness, and it wound up sending Boston’s captain into foul trouble for nearly the entire game.
Lewis was the only reason the Wizards hung around in the first half and he wound up with game highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 7-of-13 from the field and racked up his points without making a single shot from 3-point range.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston's scoring dropped in every quarter. From the first quarter to the fourth, its point total went like this: 35, 21, 16, 11.
- No player in the game scored more than 18 points.
- Boston scored 35 points in the first quarter, but only 48 over the final three quarters combined.
- The teams shot nearly the exact same from the floor: Washington shot 42.9 percent (33-of-77) and Boston shot 43.0 percent (34-of-79).
- Kevin Garnett led the C's with 17 points.
- Semih Erden set a new career high with 11 rebounds.
- The Wizards shot only 1-of-9 from downtown.
- Rashard Lewis notched the only double-double of the game with his game highs of 18 points and 11 boards.
- Both teams committed 12 turnovers.
- All five of Boston's starters finished with a positive plus/minus rating.
- The Celtics led by 16 points at one point in the first half.
- The teams combined to score only 26 points in the fourth quarter.
- Boston shot only 11-of-16 from the free-throw line.
- Three players (Ray Allen, JaVale McGee and John Wall) scored 16 points apiece.
- No reserve for either team scored in double-figures.
Quote of the Night
Paul Pierce confirms the notion mentioned in the Key Moment section as he describes the final shot of the game: "I felt good, got a great look. It just wasn’t my night.."