At The Buzzer: Wizards 94, Celtics 100 – McGee, Booker, Wall (and Blatche)… Late-Game Uh-Ohs
At every buzzer, there are key points you can look back on when considering the outcome — a game-changing instance, a slept-on moment, an initial reaction to the final score. Sure, in a contest of ebbs and flows, moments can be subjective, but it doesn’t make it any one less important than others. In a Wizards 94-100 loss against the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon, these were some of those moments…
On the surface, there is plenty to be encouraged about if you’re affiliated with the Washington Wizards. For the fifth consecutive game, they gave a strong team effort. John Wall continues to play aggressive but smart, JaVale McGee shows flashes of being a dominant post player, Nick Young continues a trend of giving a half of dazzling basketball, and Jordan Crawford is taking fewer bad shots. All these factors are keeping the Wizards close enough to win, until they inevitably fall short.
But that’s as much praise as I can heap on this team, because this was a game they HAD to have. Rajon Rondo was a late scratch and Ray Allen had to leave early with a jammed ankle. That meant that it was up to Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (69 combined years on this earth) to lead the way against the athletic Wizards. Washington just needed three good performances. Wall obliged for as long as he could, but he, along with Jordan Crawford, fell victim to hero ball late, and no one else could pick up the slack. Pierce picked up the slack for Boston and then some, and the Celtics won a game they really had no business winning. With a mere loss, the Wizards reaffirmed that they are indeed the worst team in the league and fell to 2-14.
My initial thoughts after the game, and then after later re-watching the end of the game, were all of the failed plays by the Wizards in the clutch. Let’s go to late-game uh ohs in video form….
Word is JaVale McGee’s mom takes notes on his games. Here are my notes:
There’s 3:25 left and Paul Pierce has 11 fourth quarter points. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen are out and the offense is running through Pierce. The Celtics are up 91-86 as The Truth drives against a smaller Jordan Crawford. JaVale McGee, the man responsible for protecting the paint, steps way out into the lane toward an unassuming Kevin Garrnet, who’s not ready nor caring about shooting. In doing this, McGee all but rolls out a red carpet in the lane for Pierce, who powers past Crawford. “JaVAAAALE!!!” yells Flip Saunders from the sideline. With Pierce’s layup, the Celtics go up by seven. The Wizards are set to call timeout, and do, but McGee is also just about set to illegally sling the ball to John Wall from out of bounds. Cute.
You don’t need to see a facial expression to know body language. JaVale McGee often tells a tale in a flailing, sporadic manner. It’s late in the game, the Wizards are down 98-94 and John Wall is streaking up the floor with the ball after an Avery Bradley free-throw miss. There are only 18 seconds left, but plenty of chances. Wall misses… JaVale McGee can’t corral the rebound… Off his finger tips… Celtics ball… And the Wizards Must Foul!!!… Meanwhile, McGee kind of skips up the floor in frustration because he didn’t nab the ball, although he was previously closest to the Celtic, Pierce, that Washington needed to foul. Good one.
>COOK BOOK & Mr. 7-DAY.
Not to totally come down on McGee, because what was Trevor Booker thinking?!?
Kevin Garnett gets a dunk because… Well, the Wizards play great rotation defense, to a point… That point is when Trevor Booker doesn’t properly close out on an ever-so-slight pump fake from Garnett, allowing an old Big Ticket (most stadiums have scanners now) to dunk on everyone, especially Andray Blatche. Speaking of our ‘Dray… If there was ever a chance for him to lay one on Garnett…. I know he was *probably* thinking about the team in not accumulating a flagrant foul technical… But if you want to get D.C. fans behind you…
Note: For the most part, Blatche didn’t get booed by Wizards fans on the day, because many in attendance were Celtics fans — the type of Celtics fans who love their four-leaf clovers but are likely racist against the NBA otherwise — probably didn’t know who Andray Blatche was. But Blatche gets dunked by, that’s the point of this blurb.
This one is the worst. Trevor Booker, unfortunately cued by Roger Mason’s hedging out (it’s only help, Trevor), leaves Kevin Garnett for Avery Bradley cutting baseline, under the basket. Did you really think KG was going to pass that one, Cook Book? Garnett hits the jumper, and Boston takes a 97-92 lead with 31 seconds left.
>Finally, John Wall.
Let’s just say this wasn’t the shot to take down five points with 1:16 left and 14 seconds on the shot clock. Game Changer wanted to drive hard, but not haphazardly spin into the defense. Know where you are, John. You don’t have to be the hero.