Wizards Edge Celtics On Arenas’ Free Throws
Washington 89, Boston 87
BOSTON, Jan. 25 (Ticker) -- For the second time in less than three weeks, a late foul call and a pair of free throws by Washington's Gilbert Arenas sank the Boston Celtics.
Arenas scored the last of his 19 points on two free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining as the Wizards edged the Celtics, 89-87.
"I just want the players to decide the game," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who was irate at the call earlier this month and was just as angry Wednesday. "It's a tough one because this game was ours. Despite all the turnovers and the missed free throws, we still should have won this game."
"It's deja vu," Arenas said. "Both games I didn't try to settle for the jump shots. I wanted to get free throws out of it and both games I succeeded. I didn't think he was going to reach for the ball but he pulled my arm and bailed me out."
On Wednesday, the Celtics were the ones with the fourth-quarter lead, holding an 81-74 advantage after a layup by Pierce with 4:11 remaining. But the Wizards rallied behind Antawn Jamison, who scored 16 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, to take an 85-81 lead.
"I had a rough first half," said Jamison, who combined with Arenas to account for 21 of the team's 29 points in the final period. "I pretty much played the way coach and everybody on this team expects me to play. I didn't rush it. I just went with the flow of the offense. I had the shots, I had the opportunities and I just made the best of them."
Pierce, who had 25 points, answered by scoring the next six to give Boston a two-point edge. After Jamison tied it, 87-87, with two free throws with 52 seconds left, Pierce missed two from the line to keep it tied.
A 79 percent foul shooter, Pierce was just 2-of-10 from the stripe in the second half after making all three of his free throws in the first half.
"I think it was just one of those nights," Pierce said. "Mama always said 'you're going to have games like this.' I just have to swallow it, brush it off and move on."
The teams traded empty possessions to set up Arenas. He used a stagger dribble to get defender Ricky Davis off balance and drove hard at Kendrick Perkins.
Davis was whistled for reaching in, although it appeared Perkins made more contact, giving Arenas his second opportunity in as many meetings to beat the Celtics.
"I didn't touch him," Davis said. "Watch the replay. It wasn't a foul. It's a desperation shot. I think they should have just let it go and go into overtime."
The Celtics had one last chance to tie, but Pierce's 20-footer from the corner fell short.
With their loss 2 1/2 weeks ago still fresh in their mind, the Celtics came out firing, hitting eight of their first 12 shots and finishing the first quarter with a 29-19 lead.
The next 12 minutes were a completely different story as the Wizards forced six turnovers, held the Celtics to only 10 points on 4-of-19 shooting and entered the half down just two.
"The second quarter was like a defensive clinic for us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "Holding somebody like the Celtics, who shoot close to 50 percent, holding them down to only 10 points. That kind of jump started us."