By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 3, 2007
BOSTON, Nov. 2 -- For the past two seasons, games against the Boston Celtics carried with them an air of inevitability for the Washington Wizards. Yes, the Celtics typically put up a fight, but the end result was usually the same: The Wizards won.
Those days are over.
Tired of being an Eastern Conference patsy, the Celtics beefed up their roster over the summer by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a lineup that already included Paul Pierce. On Friday night, the new "Big Three" snapped Boston's three-game home losing skid to the Wizards with a 103-83 win in front of a sold-out crowd at TD Banknorth Garden.
The only thing missing for the Celtics was a Red Auerbach victory cigar as they beat Washington for only the second time in the last eight meetings.
In opening 0-2 for the first time since 1997-1998, the Wizards were plagued by the same problems that led to Wednesday's overtime loss at Indiana.
Poor shooting (35 percent) and 20 turnovers were the main culprits against the Celtics, who blew the game open by outscoring the Wizards 37-18 in the second quarter.
Garnett, Allen and Pierce outscored Washington's trio of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, 67-49. In two games, Arenas, Butler and Jamison have made only 41 of 117 shots. On Friday night, the Wizards broke their own NBA record by missing all 16 of their three-point attempts.
"I don't know how to explain it," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said. "They just haven't shot the ball well, and then we've turned the ball over and that leads to offense for the other team. You try to stick your finger in the dike, but eventually the dam is going to break because you can't keep scoring pace."
Perhaps the Wizards will find themselves in Saturday night's home opener against the Orlando Magic. They could start by finding the basket.
The troubles have started with Arenas, who scored 21 points on 5-of-20 shooting Friday and has made only 1 of 13 three-point attempts in two games.
Jamison (10 points on 4-of-15 shooting Friday) hasn't been much better. Two bright spots against the Celtics were Brendan Haywood, who posted his second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds, and Butler, who bounced back from an eight-turnover performance in the opener, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds.
"Obviously, if you're a fan of the game, you saw that we didn't move the basketball, and I think we only finished with 11 assists as a team and that is just disturbing," Butler said. "The bottom line is that we got a nice beating on national television and we have to bounce back [Saturday night] at home."
The Celtics meanwhile, moved the ball crisply and finished possessions by making open shots. They shot 48.1 percent and four of the team's five starters scored in double figures.
And just in case anyone forgot, Garnett reminded a national television audience that he's one of the best all-around players in the game by finishing with 22 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks in his first game in the green and white.
Garnett was certainly more popular than Arenas, who was booed all night, evidence that Celtics fans were familiar with the blog entry in which Arenas guaranteed a Washington win.
"That was a great atmosphere tonight," Arenas said. "They came and had a good time. And the end of the day, it's entertainment and I'm an entertainer so I had fun with it. It's been a long time since this building sounded like that."
Arenas also said that he is not overly concerned with the 0-2 start.
"We're not panicking," Arenas said. "It's only two games into the season."
Wizards Notes: Prior to the game, the Garden's parquet floor was dedicated to Auerbach, the former Celtics coach, general manager and president who played basketball at George Washington University. Auerbach died Oct. 28, 2006.
"His legacy will forever live on," said Jordan, who discussed basketball over lunch with Auerbach on several occasions. "And believe it or not, some of the things we do are things he taught in the '60's." . . .
The Wizards and Celtics meet three more times this season: Jan. 12 and April 9 at Verizon Center and Jan. 14 in Boston.