When a team produces it's lowest first half scoring output of the season, it makes it tough to come back in the second half and pull off a win. Despite the fact that the Celtics did improve upon their dismal 31 point first half, the Wizards played just good enough in the second half to seal the deal. A late Nate Robinson surge would make this game look closer than it actually was, as the Celtics lost 106-96.
The Celtics led 12-9 with just under seven minutes to go in the first quarter, but then something happened. Maybe the rims on the Celtics' end of the court shrunk, because the shots were not falling much after. The Celtics scored their 17th point of the game with 2:40 left to play in the first quarter. They did not score another point until 7:05 left to play in the second quarter- a total time of 7:35 without a point. The Wizards went on an 18-0 run in that time span, and led 38-17 until Tony Allen ended the drought. The Celtics trailed by as many as 28 points in the second quarter (19-47), and spent the rest of the game trying to crawl back.
Doc blamed tonight's loss on the fact that he gave the team yesterday off and the shoot-around today off, but the players were quick to take the blame themselves.
"When we go out there and put that type of effort," said Pierce, "I don't think we really played with any toughness against this Washington Wizards team that has been struggling all year long. There's really no excuse for it, I just think when you say playing with toughness a lot of things come along with that- loose balls, having energy, a sense of urgency. All those little things come into play when I say we didn't play with any toughness and that's what it was tonight, we just got an old fashioned butt whooping."
It's been the case all season- there's no telling which Celtics team will show up to play. On Sunday it was a team that came ready to play, although they did blow a huge lead in the fourth quarter. They kept it together and took down the Cavaliers. Tonight, you'd expect the butt whooping to come from the Celtics, but it was from one of the worst teams in the league. With the home loss to the Wizards tonight, the Celtics have lost at home to the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference- Philadelphia, Washington, and New Jersey.
You would have to really reach to find a bright spot in tonight's game, but it could be the play of Rajon Rondo, who had 17 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, and three steals, and Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels, two players in Doc Rivers' dog house as of late. Robinson and Daniels brought the Celtics within striking distance late in the fourth- combining for 18 of Boston's 20 points in the last two minutes of the game. Robinson scored nine points in 17 seconds within that time span, bringing the Celtics within six points of tying the game twice in the last minute of play.
"I thought with that last group in, they just played harder," said Rivers. "You know, honestly, they had livelier legs."
Robinson and Daniels certainly made the most of their limited minutes tonight, but they'll have to do more than that to get back into the rotation, according to Rivers.
"I think Nate can just wake up and make shots; that's who he is. Nate is not in our rotation right now but he'll win a playoff game for us. There'll be a game where we're flat and we're going to need somebody to come in and make something happen and Nate will do that."
The same can't be said for Daniels, however.
"No, Marquis is just, you know, it'll depend on how the guys are playing and how he's working and practicing and everything else. Nate's more of an -factor offensively."
The Big Three combined to shoot 11/35 for 27 points. Wizards forward Andray Blatche shot 12/23 for 31 points on his own, and grabbed 11 boards as well. Shaun Livingston scored a career high 25 points on 9/13 shooting while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
The Boos Rained Down
Fans came to tonight's game expecting a win from the Celtics, and showed their displeasure with the Celtics' performance throughout the game.
"Well I mean we are at home, we look for our fans to give energy, to give us a spark when times are tough," said Garnett. "It doesn't help when the boos happen, but we are a group of veterans and we are a group that is a real team, we aren't fair weather. So when that occurs we all just get together and say we just have to grind this out."
These comments are somewhat troubling coming from Garnett. Fans have every right to boo a team that they feel is underperforming and underachieving. By saying that the Celtics aren't "fair weather", is he implying that some Celtics fans are by booing the product put out on the floor? At what point does a fan cheer during a stretch in which his or her favorite team gets outscored 27-2? In fact, the fans did cheer this team numerous times tonight while still being down 15+ points.
Leaders of this team like Garnett should understand this reaction by the fans, and not see it as the fans turning against the team. They're upset because they know this team is capable of playing much better basketball than has been played at many points throughout the season.