NBA 2011: Wizards’ comeback stuns Celtics, 85-83

Washington's John Wall drives past a trio of Celtics, including Rajon Rondo (#9) and Kevin Garnett (#5).  (photo by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine)
Washington’s John Wall drives past a trio of Celtics, including Rajon Rondo (#9) and Kevin Garnett (#5).
(photo by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine)

Washington, D.C., January 22, 2011 – The Eastern Conference leader Boston Celtics came to play the Washington Wizards in just the second sellout game for the home team this season, with more than 20,200 spectators in attendance.  The buzz was not whether the Wizards would lose to the Celtics, but by how many points.  The last – and only time this season – the Wizards played the Celtics was in Boston on November 17, when the Celtics embarrassed the Wizards and won by 31 points.

The game appeared to be heading toward a similar storyline in 2011.  By the end of the first quarter, the Celtics took a 15-point lead, shooting over 68 percent.  Forward Rashard Lewis managed to keep the Wizards within a respectable distance by scoring 8 points while the rest of the starters made just 2 of 13 shots (0 of 5 those were 3-point attempts).  One additional bright spot came from Mustafa Shakur – signed just before the game to a 10-day contract – who contributed 5 points.

By the second quarter, Celtics coach “Doc” Rivers was comfortable enough with the score to allow the bench to play nearly half the minutes.  Meanwhile the Wizards slowly crawled back, where they made 7 of 8 baskets in the paint with center JaVale McGee making his presence known with 9 points for the quarter.  By the end of the half, the Celtics’ lead was cut to 10.

In the second half, the Wizards played aggressively by going to the basket whenever possible, while out-rebounding their opponents by 11 to 6.   They were rewarded with 10 trips to the charity line.  By the end of the third quarter, the Wizards essentially caught up with the Eastern conference leader, with Boston now ahead by a slim margin, 72-70.

The momentum shifted to the Wizards in the fourth.  The Celtics managed to make just 5 of 23 shots and scored a total of 11 points.  On the other hand, the Wizards’ rookie guard, John Wall, decided to take matters to his hands by contributing 12 of Washington’s 15 points in the quarter.  In the end, it was Wall’s driving layup that put the Wizards in the lead for the first time with 2:35 to go.  And a minute later, his three-point shot, together with Paul Pierce’s missed jump shot, sealed the win for the Wizards, 85-83.

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