Arenas Rescues Wizards from Collapse
Washington 103, Boston 102
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Ticker) -- Gilbert Arenas rescued the Washington Wizards from a monumental collapse.
Arenas made two free throws with 3.5 seconds left to give the Wizards a 103-102 victory over the Boston Celtics, who erased a seven-point deficit in the final 30 seconds.
"They didn't say all wins in the NBA are all pretty," Arenas said.
"We will take them however we can get them," said Wizards forward Caron Butler, whose two free throws opened a 101-94 advantage with 29 seconds left.
However, Paul Pierce made a 3-pointer, the Wizards threw away an inbounds pass and Brian Scalabrine - who checked in for the first time just seconds earlier - drilled a 3-pointer to make it 101-100 with 21 seconds left.
"Before he took that 3, Scalabrine came over and said, 'Get ready, it's coming,'" Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "And he made it, too."
Butler was immediately fouled and promptly missed both free throws. Ricky Davis raced upcourt and passed to Delonte West, who missed a 17-footer but corraled a back tap and sank a jumper to give Boston the lead with 9.7 seconds to play.
"People were walking out of the gym like the game was over," said West, who nearly gave the Celtics their fourth road victory of the season.
The Wizards called timeout and went to Arenas, their leading scorer who did not have a basket in the final period. Working against a fellow All-Star in Pierce, he drove right to left and initiated contact but drew a foul as Pierce had his left forearm on Arenas' ribs.
"I just wanted to go out and get a foul," Arenas said. "I am lighter than Paul Pierce."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't like the call.
"I think my view was what everybody else's view was _ except for the right guy," Rivers said. "He lost control of the ball. He kind of flung himself into the guy. It was too bad for us, because it was a heck of a comeback."
As Pierce and Celtics Rivers protested, Arenas, who was 17-of-18 from the line, calmly made both free throws.
"I wasn't going to miss those two," Arenas said.
A rushed runner by Davis banged off the backboard at the buzzer as the Celtics were sent to their sixth loss in eight games. They fell to 3-13 on the road.
"It always hurts to lose, no matter how it happens," West said. "It is even worse when you have made a major comeback."
Butler had a pair of hoops in a 9-0 spurt that closed the third quarter and gave the Wizards an 82-76 lead. He had a 3-pointer and fed Michael Ruffin for a dunk that built the advantage to 90-80 with 6:55 to play.
Two free throws by Pierce cut the deficit to 92-91 with 3:37 left before Jamison made three clutch hoops, including a spinning move from the low post that gave Washington a 98-93 lead with 1:16 to go.
Pierce was fouled by Brendan Haywood while shooting a 3-pointer but made just 1-of-3 free throws. Arenas made a free throw off a dead-ball foul and Butler sank his pair, setting up the frantic finish.
"We shouldn't have put ourselves in that situation," Pierce said. "If we would have executed earlier in the game, we wouldn't have come to this. But I like how we didn't give in late in the game, when people were leaving the stands thinking the game was over."
Haywood had nine points and 12 rebounds for Washington, which again had problems on defense. The Wizards allowed the Celtics to shoot 49 percent (38-of-77) and were beaten on the boards, 48-37.
"We didn't have the right intensity early," Jordan said. "I thought we didn't have our legs, but in the second half we dug down deep."
Davis scored 24 points, Pierce added 23 and West 17 for Boston, which hurt itself with 19 turnovers, including six in 12 minutes by reserve guard Tony Allen.