Key Legislature: Wizards 133 vs Celtics 132 (2 OT) — Wiz Strike Back in Emotional Win | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 133 vs Celtics 132 (2 OT) — Wiz Strike Back in Emotional Win

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Updated: December 9, 2014

Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment(s) for Washington Wizards contest No. 20 versus the Boston Celtics in D.C., via Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) from his seat in the Verizon Center.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Rashad Mobley.

There are good basketball games and then there are life-changing experiences that are presented under the guise of basketball. Sunday afternoon, when the Wizards and Celtics played in Boston, the Celtics ran away with the game early and, despite the small ball change-up the Wizards threw at them late in the fourth quarter, Washington fell short of the victory and Boston still prevailed. Prior to the game, both Brad Stevens and Randy Wittman spoke about the unique opportunity to play the same team back-to-back:

“That’s the great thing about the NBA. You have an opportunity to get it right back tonight, so there’s not a lot of lingering and lost sleep days that you have to have. It’s very rare … but it’s one we can get back and get right tonight.” —Randy Wittman

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to play another game against a great team (the Wizards) and we played really well at a lot of stretches yesterday, they played really well late, and tonight is its own entity in and of itself, and that’s the way we have to treat it. There’ll be adjustments on both sides.” —Brad Stevens

Right before the game, the focus shifted away from the Wizards’ bad loss the previous night in Boston, and the possibility of Paul Pierce passing Reggie Miller on the all-time scoring list, and it shifted to the untimely death of Miyah Nelson, who lost her battle with Burkitt’s Lymphoma early Monday morning.

wallmiyah

John Wall had befriended Nelson last March, and spearheaded the crusade to allow Nelson to fulfill her dream of meeting rapper Nicki Minaj.  Wall spoke after the game about how he found about Nelson’s death.

“I think at 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m. I checked my phone and I was in a deep sleep. I get a text message from Sash (Sashia Jones) that said my little buddy has passed. I didn’t respond, I just went back to sleep and didn’t really want to think about it. It’s kind of tough throughout the day and just in her heart she fought for it.”

Once the game began, the very issue that plagued the Wizards in Boston once again reared its ugly head in the Verizon Center. Five minutes into the game. the Wizards missed all five of their shots—including two layups by Marcin Gortat—and they trailed 7-0. Paul Pierce shook the Wizards out of their doldrums with seven straight points. John Wall (seven first-quarter assists) began weaving in and out of the Celtics’ defense (mainly Avery Bradley) with ease, and the Wizards erased the Celtics deficit. By the end of the first quarter, the Wizards led 30-29.

In the second quarter, thanks to the spirited play of Kevin Seraphin (nine points on 4-of-4 shooting) and a more active defense that held the Celtics to just 36 percent shooting (the Wizards shot 52%), the Wizards extended their lead to 13 points, 58-45. The second quarter also marked when Pierce—via a free throw with 3:33 left—finally passed Reggie Miller for 16th on the all-time scoring list. If John Wall hadn’t tapped Pierce on the shoulder and asked him to look at the scoreboard, Pierce may not have known, since he was knee deep in a profanity-laced pep talk with Marcin Gortat. He acknowledged the crowd, implored them to get hyped up, then resumed his focus on the game. Said Pierce after the game, “I heard the crowd ovation, I think it’s all great, but I really don’t think it’s going to sink in until I’m done playing. I still have a lot of basketball left to play.”

The celebration continued for Pierce in the third quarter when he scored 12 points and helped the Wizards extend their lead to 23 points. Wall continued to get his teammates involved with six assists (to go along with six points), but he began to get careless with the ball (five turnovers) as rookie Marcus Smart hounded him with Darrelle Revis-like defense. The Wizards also began to get careless on defense as a team, and the 23-point lead the Wizards enjoyed with 2:28 left in the third quarter was whittled down to 16 as the Celtics went on an 11-4 run, thanks to Smart (six points) and Jeff Green (four points).

In the fourth quarter, it was clear that the Verizon Center had morphed into the Bizarro TD Bank Center.

The Wizards had erased an 18-point lead in Boston on Sunday afternoon, and last night it was Celtics’ turn to play catch-up-from-behind. The Wizards had more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six), Wall—who badly wanted to win the game and dedicate it to the memory of Miyah—began pressing and playing borderline hero ball. But the Celtics not only erased the Wizards’ lead, but they took one of their own, thanks to a 3-point show by Evan Turner (remember him?). Turner hit another improbable shot with 0.9 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

The Wizards trailed for the first 4:22 of the first overtime by as many as seven points, until Pierce calmly drained a 3-pointer against his former team, then forced Jeff Green to take and miss a tough shot to send the game into a second overtime. And then John Wall put on his cape and made a conscious effort to take over the game:

“I started the game off with seven assists just trying to get my teammates going and to get those guys easy shots. I said this [second] overtime … well, we had opportunities and we weren’t making them, so I said it’s my time to kind of be aggressive and shots started to fall for me. We got rebounds, and coach said just push it.”

Wall assisted on a Kris Humphries jump shot which cut the Celtics’ lead to 123-126, then the Game Changer proceeded to score the next ten points of the overtime period.

Wall hit one 13-foot pull up jumper and the rest of his baskets were layups in the lane, as he found another gear to add to his already speedy repertoire. Marcus Smart had done an above-average job of slowing Wall in the third and fourth quarter, but Wall owned the rookie and Avery Bradley in the second overtime. Bradley Beal—who was quiet offensively (14 points) thanks to being constantly double-teamed and run off the 3-point line—harassed Evan Turner into a difficult midrange shot, which he missed, and the game ended with the Wizards’ victorious, 133-132.

At the end of game, Coach Wittman was happy his team redeemed the bad loss the night before. Paul Pierce downplayed his career milestone in passing Reggie Miller and played up the importance of protecting home court—and holding on despite not only blowing a 23-point lead in regulation, but also two smaller leads in each overtime. Bradley Beal said after the game that this double-overtime win ranked as the top game in his young career.

But the star of the night was clearly John Wall.

A short time after the final buzzer sounded and the Wizards were victorious, Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller grabbed Wall for an interview and the emotions of both the game and his “little buddy’s” passing were a bit too much for him to handle:


Wall finished with 26 points
, a career-high 17 assists, seven rebounds, and nine turnovers, and he carried his team to a tough victory in the toughest of circumstances. “He’s our leader,” Pierce said afterward. “Everyone talks about Paul the veteran, but he’s our leader.”

Wall mentioned that the Wizards had to have this game after Sunday night’s loss, but his postgame emotions indicated that he needed this game for himself, for Miyah and for her family. It wasn’t just a game, it was a life-changing experience.

 

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.




  • Cameron Leuthy

    Love that two-handed scoop shot — old school!