Celtics hold off Wizards for first win of season

931711.jpg

Celtics hold off Wizards for first win of season

The Celtics promised to come out Saturday night against the Wizards in a completely different way than they did on Friday night against the Bucks.

And when Paul Pierce drained the first shot of the game a three-pointer it was a good sign that they were going to keep that promise.

While they certainly didn't end the game with the offensive showing they started it, the Celtics held on for an 89-86 win.

With Boston leading by as many as 16 points in the beginning of the game, the Wizards came all the way back to take a one-point lead -- albeit for just a few seconds -- in the fourth quarter.

But it was that same Pierce -- the one who opened the game with a three-pointer -- that closed it for Boston, draining another three, his fourth of the game, in the closing minutes that gave Boston a lead for good.

"It was good to finally get a win under our belt, obviously we know we have to play better," Pierce told CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely after the game. "We got off to a good start so we gotta be able to maintain. I thought late there in the third when we got up about 12 or 13 points that's the time where you have a chance to put teams away. We didn't do that, so we still got a long way to go but I'm happy with a win."

He ended the night with a game-high 27 points on 10-for-22 shooting from the field and seven rebounds.

As it turned out, Pierce's three-pointer to start the game was the start of an 17-2 run that spanned roughly eight minutes to start the game, and all of a sudden it was the Celtics playing spoiler for the oppositions' home opener.

It wasn't just Pierce who came to play early on. Kevin Garnett, who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, didn't appear to be bothered by playing the second night of a back-to-back, factoring into the team's offense early on with a couple made baskets and viscous block that was actually ruled to be goaltending.

He also did it on the defensive end with his teammates who looked to be ready for battle. Boston held the Wizards without a point for over six minutes in the first quarter. Paired with Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger who got his first start of his career, the Celtics held the Wizards to just 32 points in the paint (Boston scored just 26).

"He understands his role," Pierce said of Sullinger. "We don't give him a lot of touches but he's a great rebounder and the touches he gets he has to take advantage of it. but he really fills that middle well, puts his body in the way to get rebounds and that's what we need."

But while it appeared as though the Wizards starters didn't come to play, the same couldn't be said for the Wizards bench.

And that's an understatement

Led by Kevin Seraphin, who finished with 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting and seven rebounds, and Jordan Crawford, who finished with 21 points, the Wizards clawed back into the game. Boston's 17-point lead was nearly cut in half by halftime, as they led 49-42.

Every time the Celtics pushed it to double-digits, the Wizards responded with baskets of their own, and both Seraphin and Crawford were in on the mix.

In fact, trailing 65-52 with just under six minutes to play in the third, it was Seraphin and Crawford who scored every Wizards point to end the quarter on a 13-4 run and close the C's lead to 69-65. It was also those two who gave the Wizards a 43-20 bench scoring advantage through three quarters and eventually a 62-27 advantage (Washington starters scored just 24 points).

With Boston holding on to a slim lead with just under ten minutes to go, Crawford left the game due to a sprained ankle (he later returned). In that short time, Boston rattled off back-to-back three-pointers on consistent possessions courtesy of Jeff Green and Paul Pierce.

But again, the lead wouldn't last. The Wizards' Jannero Pargo, Cartier Martin, and of course, Seraphin, brought the Wizards all the way back.

Rajon Rondo did his best to stave off the comeback, somehow converting on a hoop after his shot was initially blocked just before the shot clock expired.

Rondo finished with another double-double, 12 points and 12 assists, in a game-high 40 minutes, but nonetheless the Wiz took a one-point lead on a Seraphin jumpshot.

That's when Pierce stepped up and took the lead right back.

As it turned out, that would be the last shot Boston needed. Both sides exchanged bricked jumpers and turnovers for the remainder of the game. Boston played the type of defense they're more than capable of playing, and it showed down the stretch at time.

"That's how we gotta play every night," Pierce said. "That type of intensity. We have to come out like that, we have to finish like that. Kevin with some huge stops down the stretch, challenging shots and rebounding and that's how we play. When we don't shoot the ball well we have to depend on our defense."

Jason Terry hit both free throws in the closing seconds to stretch the lead to three points.

A Pargo desperation three-quarter-court shot fell short, and Boston got its first win of the year. It wasn't pretty, but they'll take it.

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.