By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 12:50 AM
BOSTON - Before the Washington Wizards took the court against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, John Wall was slouched on the training table, where Wizards assistant trainer Koichi Sato applied some treatment to his sprained left foot. Gilbert Arenas was standing nearby, talking to Wall while dribbling a basketball, and playfully grabbed the big toe on Wall's right foot.
Still moving around in a walking boot, the No. 1 overall pick missed his second game and delayed his first matchup against all-star point guard and fellow Kentucky product Rajon Rondo. But a night after the Wizards shared the ball, clamped down on defense and played their best basketball of the season against Toronto in his absence, they responded with a 114-83 loss that was easily their worst performance since a season-opening 29-point loss in Orlando.
"This is one of them games, where you're on the playground and you beat somebody up - and the real bully comes and beats you up," Arenas said of the Celtics. "They are built for a championship. We're rebuilding. Until we feel we're on that level, we have a long way to go. The two championship-caliber teams that we've played, we got blown out."
Desperately in need of Wall's unselfish playmaking against the Celtics, the Wizards had one fewer assist than Rondo (13) as they settled for quick jumpers early in the shot clock and rarely tried to move the ball. Wall's presence likely wouldn't have prevented the trouncing as the Wizards also failed to provide much resistance to the Celtics, who shot 65.8 percent from the floor and scored however they wanted.
"It was like men playing against boys," Coach Flip Saunders said, adding that not having Wall made little difference. "I told our guys, they just reached right into our chest and tore our heart out, and just took away our will."
Paul Pierce camped out for uncontested three-pointers and scored 23 points. Kevin Garnett ran the floor and caught lobs and finished with 18. Shaquille O'Neal barreled his way inside for dunks. Ray Allen rolled around screens for jumpers, And when he wasn't setting up his teammates, Rondo scored when the opportunity arrived in the open floor. The Celtics starters shot an astounding 35 of 49 (71.4 percent) from the floor, and late in the fourth quarter - with Boston up 31 - O'Neal took the opportunity to watch the popular "Gino" video that the Celtics play on the video screen during blowouts.
Nick Young scored 20 points off the bench for the second night in a row and Al Thornton had 15 for the Wizards (3-7), who dropped to 0-5 on the road this season. After the game, Wall was asked how he felt and replied, "Better."
Wall could possibly return when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday at Verizon Center, where they are 3-2. They won't have much success if they have an outing similar to the one in Boston, where the Wizards had 16 turnovers and just 11 assists while shooting just 38.8 percent.
After scoring a combined 50 points on 50 percent shooting in his past two games and leading the Wizards to a win over the Raptors, Arenas had a difficult outing. He made a long three-pointer to start the game, but missed eight of his next 10 field goal attempts - only one in the second half - and finished with just nine points.
Arenas had three steals, but his anticipation didn't always work out in favor of the Wizards. He deflected an Allen pass to O'Neal that caromed right to Garnett, who soared inside for an easy dunk.
"My old self would've took 20 shots trying to get us back," Arenas said, "but with a young team, everyone is watching. You have to show, we have to do this as a team. We got down as a team, we got to get back as a team."
The Wizards gave the Celtics problems in their last two regular season meetings, with Washington squandering a huge lead in March and soundly beating Boston in April, as Andray Blatche torched Garnett for 31 points and 11 rebounds. Saunders said before the game that the Wizards have the length and athleticism to fluster the Celtics, but admitted that their success last season may have been the result of Boston's apathetic approach to the regular season and Garnett's slow recovery from a right knee injury.
The difference in the Celtics - and Garnett in particular - was evident all night, as he scored with ease and also pushed Blatche out of the paint. Blatche scored 10 points, but his only two field goals in the second half were three-pointers. "We could've come in here and did the same thing [as last season] if we came with more effort and was more serious," Blatche said. "They saw blood and like a shark, they kept attacking."
Kirk Hinrich also had 10 points and a team-high five assists, but he was unable to contain his frustrations in the third quarter after he whipped out a pass in the corner to Young that sailed out of bounds. Hinrich pounded the padding of the basket support but his night didn't get much better, as he later took a fall and Celtics massive reserve Glen "Big Baby" Davis landed on top of him.
The Wizards trailed by just 41-38 after Blatche made a scoop shot with 5 minutes 31 seconds left in the first half. But the Celtics went on a 12-0 run that ended when Rondo stole the ball from Arenas and had a fastbreak layup. Near the end of the fourth quarter, the Celtics' lead had ballooned to 37 points.