From The Other Side: Basketball Gods Giveth and Taketh Away
In December of 2009, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Washington Wizards in overtime, 109-107 – mainly because of a tough shot by Hedo Turkoglu. The Wizards started slowly that game and found themselves quickly down 20-5, and in the end, they were just too gassed to close the deal in overtime. Afterward, Flip Saunders had this to say:
“We just buried ourselves in such a hole. You look at the end, the shot Turkoglu makes, it’s like the basketball gods … I always say they have a way of equaling things. And we just didn’t do what we needed to do.”
Just a month earlier, the Wizards found themselves in a similar situation against the Miami Heat. They started slow, fought hard to get back in the game, only to lose in the waning moments. Again, Coach Saunders referenced these magical, mystical gods of basketball:
“I remember the first minute, falling behind by 19, not coming out with the energy that we have played previously in all the games. The basketball gods will get you and you can’t cheat the game in a lot of situations.”
In the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s Wizards-Celtics game, the basketball gods gave Boston numerous chances to win. Given that the Celtics were up 35-20 after the first quarter, one could argue that the game should not have been that close in the first place. Still, the Celtics had plenty of open looks from Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — their two most clutch players — and they were unable to stretch their lead beyond three points at any point during the quarter.
There was a missed dunk by Allen, foul trouble by Pierce, ill-advised shots by Big Baby Davis and Nate Robinson, and the complete disappearance of Garnett (two points and one rebound) and Rondo (two points and zero assists) The Celtics played stellar defense on the Wizards by only allowing them to shoot 35-percent, in the fourth, but it was nullified by 21-percent shooting of their own.
With 2:45 left in the game and the scored tied at 79, Doc Rivers called a timeout to presumably stop the bleeding and to get his team in gear for the home stretch. Unfortunately for Rivers and the Celtics, during that same timeout, the basketball gods decided they had seen quite enough of the offensive futility, and they hitched their wagon to the Wizards — more specifically, young John Wall.
Wall scored six straight points to put the game away, including a 27-foot three-pointer off the backboard. The Wizards never trailed again. Pierce had two wide open shots in the last minute, but the gods had already spoken.
The post-game atmosphere in the Celtics locker room was not a pleasant one. Garnett was a bit testy when answering questions, Big Baby yelled out a random expletive that startled reporters, and Nate Robinson was visibly irritated when more than one reporter tried to coax a John Wall compliment out of him. Still, there were quotes to be had about why they lost, the basketball gods, and Wall’s miraculous shot.
“We came out, played hard, got a big lead and then I think we went into show time from (the second quarter) on. I really think we deserved to lose the game. My problem was our pace; we were walking the ball up the floor – we dribbled the life out of the game … everybody. We didn’t go to the post — we called 20 post plays and the ball never touched it. It was a jump shooting contest. When you’re up by 10 or 15, jump shots are easy; when you know you’ve squandered the lead, and then you’re wide open, all of a sudden that trigger gets a little tighter. That three [that Wall hit] … let’s just say that was the basketball gods punishing us for the way we played.” –Doc Rivers
“When you give a team life and let them back in the game, you allow the basketball gods to come into play. You see what happens. John Wall makes a bank shot and that puts them up, you give Ray[Allen] a wide open three, me wide open shots, and they just didn’t fall and it came back to haunt us. Just a mental letdown today.” –Paul Pierce
“We got really good shots but we just didn’t make them. We got the shots when we wanted to, but John Wall hit a hell of a shot — the bank three — and then we had to get a bucket when we needed it and we couldn’t. It’s like that sometimes. When you’re playing on the road, you can’t give up big leads like that. They play really well at home and we knew that. I thought Blatche played really good defense at the end, and Rashard Lewis has been huge for them.” –Kevin Garnett
“I knew it was going up, I saw him [Wall] look up at the shot clock with like four seconds left, and I contested it, but he just hit a tough shot. We got [offensive] sets with maybe 10 or 11 seconds on the shot clock, and that way you don’t get to go to your second and third option, you just have one shot, and you have to just go to your first option and hope you make it, but we didn’t.” –Rajon Rondo
A Ray Allen Missed Dunk.
Before the game, a couple members of the media (including Mike Prada of SB Nation DC and David Aldridge) asked Doc Rivers about Rajon Rondo, John Wall and point guard play in general, and Rivers had some excellent insight:
Big Baby Arms.
[photos: Kyle Weidie, Truth About It.net]
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