Wizards get flattened in Boston
Gilbert Arenas's right foot was in a bucket of ice, his left knee covered with a bag of ice, and he was dumbfounded by what he had just witnessed. The Wizards had just suffered their worst beat down of the season and Arenas looked up and asked, "So that's what a championship-caliber team looks like, huh? Wow!"
Wow, indeed. Just as they were in the season-opener in Orlando, the Wizards were completely overmatched on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics certainly had the edge in experience (all but one of their starters has been in the league since 1998) and in talent (all five starters have made at least one all-star appearance), but they also brought something else to TD Garden that Washington didn't: a desire to win the game.
It helped that the Celtics hadn't played since Sunday, giving their roster of aging future Hall of Famers the chance to rest and recuperate, and that the Wizards were on the second end of back-to-back games. But still. "We made them look better than they were, the way we played," Coach Flip Saunders said. "I just thought they played with a lot more with a lot more passion. They did what veteran team is supposed to do...get physical from the beginning."
Shaquille O'Neal looked like weighed as much as JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche combined, as he just pushed his smaller opponents aside and dunked with ease. On one play, O'Neal rebounded a Paul Pierce miss, and with Blatche, McGee and Al Thornton hopping around and flailing at the ball, the 350-pound behemoth cleared up space then rose up for a two-handed dunk. The Celtics dominated the Wizards with points in the paint, outscoring them, 56-28.
After the game, Arenas marveled at the size of the Celtics, who were still without centers Jermaine O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins, who were both out with knee injuries. They were a sharp contrast to the smallish Toronto Raptors, whose starting 7-foot center likes to shoot threes and grabbed just two rebounds the night before. "We beat a team and we're all jumping up like, 'Yay!' " Arenas said. "And then the big fish came and whooped us up."
The Wizards were competitive for about 17 minutes, as Blatche made a short hook shot that brought them within three points in the second quarter. But the Celtics closed out the half on a 19-6 run and essentially put them to bed for the night.
The official act of surrender came early in the third quarter when Garnett beat Blatche for position inside and caught a pass from Rajon Rondo. Unable to contest the shot, Blatche reached for Garnett's shorts and pulled down. It was reminiscent of boxing match, when a guy avoids a beating by leaning on his opponent and holding him. And, an example of how poorly things worked for the Wizards, Garnett's shorts barely budged.
Paul Pierce said the day before that the Celtics wouldn't take the Wizards for granted because they had so many young players hoping to establish themselves. Garnett said, "This is a team that gave us problems last year and we haven't forgotten that. I haven't. Paul and I got here and could hear [former Celtic and current Wizards assistant coach] Sam Cassell about how young they were and how they were going to come at us. We made note of it. We talked about it, you know, before the game and coming out here, taking care of business. I thought we stayed with that for 48 minutes."
After destroying the gimpy-kneed Garnett in two games last season, Blatche noticed a difference in Garnett, who had 18 points on 9 of 11 shooting and seven rebounds in 23 minutes. "He's got more legs and his jump shot is definitely improved from last year. Look like he did a lot of work this summer," Blatche said.
Blatche has been dealing with his own knee troubles of late, but said that his knee actually felt fine on the second end of back-to-back games. "I couldn't help my team better, but the main thing about this league, we've got another game in two days," said Blatche, who was held to just 10 points and three rebounds after getting 22 points the night before against the Raptors. Blatche added that the Wizards team that showed up against Boston was not the one that played Toronto the night before. "[Tuesday] was a team that played together, trusted one another, followed directions, worked hard. [Wednesday] was a team that because we got a win yesterday, was thinking it was going to be as easy as [Tuesday]]."
It was far more frustrating for the Wizards, and likely would've been worse if not for Nick Young scoring 20 points off the bench for the second straight game. Kirk Hinrich tried to inject some life in his teammates, as he scored all 10 of his points in the third quarter to bring the Wizards within 15 on a reverse layup with 2:28 left in the period. But the Wizards were down 27 points about six minutes later, forcing Saunders to clear his bench.
"There were stretches where it seemed like we weren't into it," Hinrich said. "We were just a little bit flat."
And the Celtics made them flatter.
| November 18, 2010; 1:40 AM ET
Categories: Andray Blatche, Flip Saunders, Gilbert Arenas, Kirk Hinrich
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