Blatche, Wizards rock Celtics, 106-96
Saturday, April 10, 2010
BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett moved closer to Andray Blatche and grabbed his arm to get his attention, but Blatche just slapped it away. Garnett then leaned into Blatche's ear and started shouting, but Blatche turned his back and lifted his hand. After letting Garnett get under his skin during a fourth-quarter meltdown the last time the Washington Wizards were in Boston, Blatche vowed that he wasn't going to engage in a trash-talking session with the future Hall of Fame power forward.
And, with the Wizards up 26 points on the Boston Celtics in the second quarter, what did Blatche really have to say? Blatche responded by knocking down another jumper to extend the lead, forcing Celtics Coach Doc Rivers to call a timeout and a sellout crowd at TD Garden to boo the home team incessantly. Blatche then ran down to his bench, where his giddy teammates were ready to chest-bump him and slap five with him. It was a surreal moment -- the lottery-bound Wizards dominating a Celtics team that supposedly has championship aspirations.
And, despite a shaky, sloppy second half in which they watched a 27-point third-quarter lead get whittled to six with 41.9 seconds remaining, the Wizards left the building with a surprising 106-96 victory.
"It's like they expect us to be scared of them, or expect us to lose," JaVale McGee said after scoring 14 points with 11 rebounds. "We just tried to prove everybody wrong and we did. It felt good to get a real big lead but we knew we had to get a big lead in order to win by little because they are a real great team."
Blatche led all scorers with 31 points and added 11 rebounds, and Shaun Livingston had a career-high 25 points and seven assists as the Wizards (25-54) won for the fourth time in their past six games. They also avenged an 86-83 loss on March 7, when they blew a 13-point lead with 6 minutes 11 seconds remaining as the Celtics closed the game on a 20-4 run.
"We have their number, obviously," Livingston said. "Guys know we came out and jumped on this team last game as well. We were capable, we knew it was possible. We just had to finish the job."
The score was tied at 15 in the first period, but the Wizards outscored the Celtics 32-4 over the next 12 minutes. Nick Young had 11 of his 19 points during the run, giving his team a 30-17 lead at the end of the quarter when he fired a long three-pointer that bounded off the backboard and rolled in as time expired.
McGee was influential on the defensive end, as he recorded three blocked shots and altered several others as the Wizards held the Celtics without a field goal for 7:35 and scored 18 unanswered points. Celtics reserve Tony Allen ended the scoring drought and brought his team within 38-19 but Celtics fans started to get restless as the Wizards scored the next nine points. Blatche was responsible for seven of them, including a rare three-pointer from the right baseline. After Blatche breezed past Garnett for a fast-break layup later in the Wizards' run, Garnett started to talk smack. Blatche ignored him.
"Number one thing is I have a lot of respect for my coach. He said, 'Just don't say nothing.' So this time, I just didn't say nothing at all," said Blatche, who scored 23 points in the last meeting but was held without a field goal and forced into three turnovers down the stretch. After that game, Coach Flip Saunders was highly critical of Blatche for "woofing" at Garnett, seemingly ignoring the aspects of the game in which his team faltered. And although, Blatche said he was merely defending himself, he promised that there wouldn't be a repeat on Friday.
On Friday, Blatche played as if he was determined to make amends, as he scored 15 points in the first half. He scored in a variety of ways, driving inside, stepping outside for jumpers, and bringing out new tricks in his arsenal. Late in the first period, he got separation from Glen Davis by using an old Hakeem Olajuwon move by flashing the ball in front of him and yanking it back. He then made a layup as Davis was backpedaling.
The Wizards led 71-44 when McGee converted a three-point play with 3 minutes 43 seconds left in the third period, but the Celtics closed the period on a 10-4 run and put the clamps on defensively in the fourth quarter. But after committing just nine turnovers in the first three periods, the Wizards had 10 turnovers and only five field goals in the fourth quarter. Paul Pierce brought the Celtics within 12 points with 4:25 remaining.
With the Wizards up by 15 with 89 seconds left, Nate Robinson went on a one-man run, scoring 11 points in 26 seconds to draw the Celtics within 99-93.
"They was hitting some unbelievable shots at the end. I was like, 'Please don't let this happen,' " Young said with a laugh.
"We kept it interesting. Kept the people in their seats at least," Saunders said. "We hadn't been in many situations where we're up 20 on the road when teams are going to come after you. To guys credit, we hung in there. I think we learned some things, what to do, what not to do. We've grown."