The Celtics were coming off a loss to the Miami Heat and were playing on the road on the second game of a back-to-back. It’s a perfect situation for the Wizards to finally get over the .500 mark, right? Wrong.
Washington played some miserable basketball in the first half, digging a 20+ hole to the Rajon Rondo-less Boston Celtics at home. John Wall looked disinterested, Trevor Ariza played horrific defense, and Randy Wittman seemed content with the players he had on the floor, making zero changes to his regular rotations. The Wizards played some of the worst basketball I’ve ever seen them play in the first half, but they picked it up in the third and fourth quarters.
John Wall began to get engaged defensively, attacked the basket, and what do you know? The Wizards were back in it. Wall finished the game with a triple-double, scoring 28 points, albeit on 29 shot attempts, to go with 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest way to get a triple-double, but I thought Wall picked it up in the second half and led Washington’s surge. With that said, I hated the way he started the game and it probably cost Washington the contest, or at least it didn’t help their cause. Phil Pressey, who scored a career-high 8 points (!!!) in the first quarter, finished the game with 20 points on 7 for 10 shooting. Don’t get me wrong, some of the shots Pressey was knocking down were ridiculous, including a deep 3-point shot that tied the score up late in the game, but Wall could’ve done a lot more to prevent him from having a career night. This happens way too often to Washington. At some point, they’re going to have to stop allowing guys like Phil Pressey to dictate the outcome of the game. They didn’t pressure him whatsoever, and it all starts with Wall. Washington kept going under screens tonight and Pressey took advantage.
Besides John Wall, no one on Washington’s roster really had a standout game. Either that, or I’m still too frustrated at the outcome to remember anything notable from any other player. Nene was solid, scoring 17 points along side 9 rebounds, but he missed two potential game winning shots that could’ve put Washington above .500. I honestly can’t even blame Nene for missing those shots, because, well, he’s not supposed to be taking potential game winning shots from 20 feet away from the basket. To make matters even worse, Randy Wittman thought it was a good idea to let Nene take another 20 foot shot to potentially win the game after he bricked the first one. Meanwhile, Bradley Beal who’s been hitting clutch shots all season long, didn’t even touch the ball on either possession. It’s mind boggling.
I credit Jeff Green, who had a monster 39 points on just 26 shot attempts, for leading the depleted Celtics (who had just 5 road wins on the season prior to tonight) to victory. He knocked down clutch shot, after clutch shot, including a floating 3-pointer with two defenders in his face to tie the game up. I mean, he was virtually unguardable. It certainly didn’t help that Trevor Ariza didn’t play a lick of defense in all of the 43 minutes he was on the floor. If I remember correctly, Gerald Wallace dribbled the ball up the court with just seconds remaining in overtime and layed the ball in without much defense being played by Ariza.
I was worried that Jared Sullinger, who’s been terrific this season, would go off on Nene or Marcin Gortat, but having guys players Phil Pressey score 20 points is simply unacceptable. Washington will never get over the .500 mark if they play uninspired basketball like they did tonight. For a team hoping to make some noise in the postseason, the Wizards sure didn’t look like they wanted any part of the struggling Boston Celtics tonight. They have to find a way to “get up” for struggling teams or else they’ll continue to put themselves in losing situations like they did tonight.
The great thing about the NBA is the Wizards won’t have much time to reflect on the loss, as they’ll head out on a west-coast trip starting with the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. Instead of building on a win, the Wizards will have to try and get back to .500 against the Suns later this week. What a disappointment.