The Wizards showed what it would take to at least stay competitive while short-handed, battling back from an early 16-point deficit to take the lead and trailing by a point in the final minute.
But the absence of experienced options in the closing minute resulted in an errant pass by reserve big man Kevin Seraphin, and later an air ball three-point attempt from backup small forward Martell Webster, forcing the Wizards to settle for an 89-86 loss to the Boston Celtics.
“I was searching to find a go-to guy in that situation,” Coach Randy Wittman said after his team dropped to 0-2. “We just don’t have that now.”
A sellout crowd greeted the Wizards, many of the seats occupied by green-clad Celtics fans while an otherwise apathetic group of supporters sat patiently, waiting for something to excite them. After a receiving a lukewarm welcome, the Wizards provided some entertainment and fans were on their feet until the end. They just couldn’t record a win with so much stacked against them.
Jordan Crawford came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points but was forced to leave with a sprained ankle early in the fourth quarter after former Georgetown star Jeff Green fouled him. Crawford returned but didn’t score again.
“I was mad about that,” Crawford said about the injury, adding that he doesn’t expect to miss any time. “I think it definitely could’ve been a different outcome.”
Crawford and Seraphin teamed up to bail out the starting unit after yet another slow start. Seraphin made his regular season debut after missing three weeks with a strained right calf and scored 19 points. He didn’t waste any time getting himself acclimated, as he made his first seven shots from the field, knocking down hook shots left and right and a baseline jumper with all-star Kevin Garnett defending.
Seraphin finished 8 of 9 from the floor and added seven rebounds. But he was smarting afterward for throwing the ball away with 28.2 seconds remaining, the Wizards trailing 87-86 and Garnett defending him tightly.
“He just like put pressure on me,” Seraphin said of Garnett, “and I was just surprised and tried to pass the ball when I should just take my time. I lost the ball but I’ll learn from it.”
Trevor Booker was the only starter to score in double figures with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. The starting five of Booker, A.J. Price, Emeka Okafor, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza struggled to establish any cohesion and missed 13 of their first 14 shots, putting the team in an early 17-2 hole.
“Our starts are so bad, you don’t know if you’ve ever going to see daylight again,” Wittman said. “I didn’t know if the sun was coming up tomorrow. That’s how bad it was, to me, sitting there.”