With a little over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, and the Celtics down 66-79, the Celtics called timeout. This gave fans a chance to find the closest exit, and there were some who did. You couldn't really blame them at the time. Based on the way the first three and half quarters were going, and the Celtics track history this season at home against much poorer teams (Nets anyone?), they had every right to leave. Those fans are probably kicking themselves right about now.
The Celtics went on to close out the last 5:56 of the game on a 20-4 run and defeated the Washington Wizards 86-83. Amazing what a little defense can do!
"We should have played with that intensity all game," admitted Paul Pierce. "Once our defensive intensity picked up it changed the whole ball game from us getting up on guys, making them do things that they didn't want to do. Tonight we saw something that I like to see at this point in the season, coming down the stretch. We saw the Celtics that we are used to seeing."
Maybe in the past two seasons, yes, but fans were treated to a comeback that hasn't been all too common this season, and it was certainly a breath of fresh air.
"You know, it was good to win a game like this, as far as I was concerned," said Coach Doc Rivers. "We've lost so many of these, where we've played poorly and lost. It's nice every once in a while to play poorly and win."
Down 13 points, Rivers spent the timeout getting on his team about stepping up the defense and not putting up poor shots. They responded with the type of basketball that fans have expected to see out of them for 48 minutes, and not six.
"I said ‘we have to be perfect from this point on defensively, we have plenty of time'. We really didn't but you have to get them not to start thinking hero shots. That was my whole purpose offensively is let's get stops, look for twos, not threes, and just play solid basketball."
While the Celtics did in fact attack the rim and not look for the "hero" shot, Ray Allen played the hero role very well in the closing minutes of the game. Rondo went to the line to try to complete the three point play that would put the Celtics one point away from tying it. Rondo missed the free throw, but Perkins ended up with the ball and found Allen open for the three pointer with 1:33 left in the game. It gave the Celtics their first lead since midway through the first quarter.
A Randy Foye jump shot would give the Wizards a one point lead with 1:17 left on the clock. The Wizards had a chance to expand on that lead, but Foye missed on his three point attempt. There was a scramble for the rebound, and when the dust cleared, Garnett ended up with the ball and the timeout with 27 seconds left on the clock.
"I don't even know man, that was a bar fight," Garnett said with Pierce laughing in agreement. "Chairs were thrown, bottles were breaking. You had to get your back to something and just swing. So that's what that was, all grit."
Throughout his career, Allen has been one of the best in utilizing screens and picks to get open. This was no different tonight, as Doc drew up the play in the timeout that worked exactly as planned. Ray Allen did a nice job in summing up how it all went down.
"Sam (Cassell) was over there heckling on the sideline when I walked down and he was trying to talk to me, and you know how Sam is. He looked at me and was like, ‘You're getting the ball, you're getting the ball, I know you're getting the ball!' So, you know I tried to shrug it off, so when I went to fake to Rondo I just cut out and Mike Miller is riding me and he's kind of riding me making sure I don't get the ball and he's pushing me (the opposite) way so I just kind of lazily cut through to the basket and Perk and Kevin were coming up. And the minute he thought I was going that way I just cut hard and they got him. I was sitting there wide open."
And did Cassell, a man of many words, have anything to say after that?
"No, he probably was just kicking himself," said Allen. "I told him he needed to wear a tie."
Allen ended the game 10-15 with 25 points, 18 of which came in the second half.
"I thought that once (Allen) got into a nice, little rhythm, I think that everyone else, you know, fed off of that a little bit," said Garnett. "When it was time to really get him open for the three, we got him open, and he hit a big shot."