The Wizards were collecting technical fouls as if there was a shortage in the first quarter. Flip Saunders picked up two and got ejected after arguing with referee Eli Roe for a non-call and then grabbing his arm for an explanation. JaVale McGee was responsible for another two, because he didn’t move out of the lane quickly enough as the team was called for defensive three seconds.
John Wall got the other technical for taunting after he drove in the lane, threw down a hard left-handed dunk on Boston Celtics center Greg Stiemsma, then glared at him. If a 6-foot-4 guy dunks all over a near 7-footer, you’d figure he had earned the right to do whatever he wanted.
“I think I had the right to stare at him,” Wall said with a grin after the Wizards lost, 100-92, on Monday night. “I guess you can’t stare at people when stuff happen. I just stared at him at got a quick tech. It was the same thing when other people make plays, and the players say something to you and they don’t get nothing. I just had to keep my head the rest of the game because I didn’t want to get ejected and cost my teammates.”
The free point giveaway had a slight influence on the final score, but the person who probably paid the biggest price for those technicals, unfortunately, was Nick Young. He was the poor guy who had to defend Celtics all-star shooting guard Ray Allen.
Shooters usually take advantage of any opportunity to work on their shot, and Allen repeatedly strode to the foul line every time a Wizard did something foul. He only made three of those five technical free throws, but it helped him get into a decent groove for the rest of the game, as he scored a team-high 27 points and added six more three-pointers to his NBA record total.
“Marathon man,” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said about Allen, who made all three of his three-point attempts and scored 11 points in the fourth quarter. “He was great. He just kept going. I would never want to guard that guy. He just never stops moving. I can’t imagine the miles Nick Young had to [run] because he had to chase him all game.”
Young had to do more than chase. He also had to absorb multiple screens on nearly every possession. Allen took 16 shots, but Young probably took three times as many to the ribs, chest and hip from the Celtics’ big men.
“I tip my hat off to them, setting hard screens. They did a good job of making me work on both ends,” Young said of the Celtics.
Young was exhausted trying to keep up with Allen and had no lift on his jumper as he missed 11 of his 14 shots and was 0 for 4 from beyond the three-point line.
The most fascinating part of Allen running Young ragged is that he is nearly 10 years older than Young. The 36-year-old Allen remains one of the league’s best-conditioned athletes and there is a ton of work that goes behind that beautiful jump shot. He is obsessive and diligent with his approach, running and shooting hundreds of jumpers while others are resting. Young could only marvel at Allen’s consistency and longevity.
“Ray Allen is non-stop. Non-stop movement. It’s amazing,” Young said. “It’s a player I can look up to. It gives me a chance to look and understand how hard you’ve got to really work. He’s a Hall of Famer. I’m learning as I go.”
The Wizards are learning on the fly as well, and the results through the first five games have left much to be desired. But there were some encouraging developments in the defeat. They led after each of the first three quarters and stayed competitive despite poor shooting nights from every starter except McGee and Andray Blatche. They had struggled to sustain a consistent effort for an entire game, showing an ability to play as a team for 12- to 24-minute stretches and forgetting how to compete the rest of the time.
‘We were really aggressive the whole game, not just spurts, the whole 48,” said McGee, who recovered from his defensive lapses early to finish with 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. In two games against the Celtics, McGee combined for 33 points, 28 rebounds and eight blocks. “I’m always aggressive with the Celtics. I’m aggressive with everybody, but I feel like they don’t respect us, so that’s pretty much my game plan going in.”
Blatche finally put it all together and finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. He refused to let Kevin Garnett have the upper hand for the second night in a row, and even managed to coerce Garnett into fouling him twice on the same possession.
“My teammates are there for me, the coaching staff, and the whole organiation’s kept on pushing me and believing in me, and that’s all I need,” Blatche said. “Just working hard, getting extra shots, trying to stay focused on the game and not the outsiders of it.”
Wall had a rough night keeping up with all-star point guard Rajon Rondo, but helped limit him to just six points. Both point guards had seven turnovers, but Wall had some ill-time errors, with four miscues in the final 6 minutes, 24 seconds. “A couple of careless turnovers down the stretch. They made the shots and made the plays we didn’t make,” Wall said.
After filling in for Saunders the final 46 minutes, Randy Wittman was just pleased that the Wizards were actually in a competitive game in which the result was still in doubt in the final minute. “We were right there to do it, and someday we are going to make those plays,” Wittman said.
On Monday, they set up Allen early to watch him make those plays late.