The Washington Wizards lost their home opener tonight 89-86 to the Boston Celtics 89-86. The loss drops the Wizards to 0-2 while the Celtics got their first win of the season against two losses.
The Wizards started horribly tonight -- much like their season opener in Cleveland -- and fell behind 19-2 in the first quarter. Trailing 26-12 after one quarter, Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman turned to his bench and that worked, as the reserves dominated Boston and outscored the opposition 30-23 to cut the lead to 49-42 at halftime. Backup forward/center Kevin Seraphin, playing for the first time this year, went five for five from the field in the first half, scoring 10 points in 11 minutes on the court. Guard Jordan Crawford also contributed, mainly because he stopped shooting deep jumpers and actually attacked the basket -- something he needs to do a lot more often.
The Wizards fell behind by double digits again in the third quarter, but again the reserves led the team back and this time Wittman left Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor and Bradley Beal on the bench where they belonged. The guard duo of starter A.J. Price and Jannero Pargo platooned during the second half, with Pargo scoring 9 points [4-7 shooting] and dishing 4 assists in 20 minutes. But it was Kevin Seraphin [19 points, 8-9 shooting, 7 rebounds, +17 court ratio] and Jordan Crawford [21 points, 8-14 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 dimes, +17 court ratio] who led the team back.
With just over 30 seconds left in regulation Kevin Seraphin took the ball on the right blocks with Kevin Garnett climbing all over him. Seraphin wasn't double-teamed, but obviously felt intimidated by the defensive pressure of Garnett and he threw the ball wildly out of the post and, indeed, out of the court. The turnover returned the ball to Boston with 28.2 seconds left.
The Celtics got the ball in across half court off a time out and let Rondo set up a play. The ball eventually made its way in to Garnett just inside the free throw line. Garnett spun and, with Seraphin's hands in his face, fired an arcing turnaround jumper. The ball bounced off the rim and was grabbed by the Wizards. A quick timeout gave Washington the ball with 4.5 seconds left, but the play was a disaster. Martell Webster took the ball and, while falling out of bounds, fired up a wild turnaround 3-point jumper at the baseline. It was an airball and the ball went out of bounds on the Wizards. Boston took the ball back with 1.5 seconds left and the Wizards were forced to foul, giving Boston the final winning margin.
Wizards starters shot 9-35 from the field and were outscored by an average of 15.2 points. Rookie Bradley Beal, the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, was terrible, missing all five shots from the field, scoring two points and generally looking as if he didn't want the ball and didn't want to be in the game. If that was the case his wish was eventually granted, as Beal had to be pulled for ineffectiveness for the second straight game and played only 22 minutes tonight -- contributing nothing to the team's effort.
Trevor Ariza missed all four of his shots, didn't score and didn't even grab a rebound in 17 minutes on the floor. Meanwhile, his Boston counterpart, Paul Pierce, led all scorers with 27 points, including 4 of 8 on 3-pointers. Center Emaka Okafor missed 5 of 6 shots, scored only 3 points and pulled down 7 boards in 17 minutes.
Coach Wittman needs to look seriously at shaking up his starting lineup after only two games. Seraphin was playing very well at the end of last season and he seems to have picked up right where he left off. He dominated Garnett in the post early with a variety of jump hooks and sweet post moves, scoring with both hands. My favorite shot, though, was a mid-range jumper when he stepped outside, the sort of shot that, if he can make it consistently, will make Seraphin an absolute monster in this league.
Crawford may also deserve to start. I know he's a shameless shot-jacker, but he can score when he's on or when he's driving to the hoop, as he was tonight, and the starting lineup just isn't scoring at all. Beal looks nowhere near ready to play in the NBA and he's only hurting the team at this point.
The Wizards next play on Wednesday, 7 November, in Boston against these same Celtics.
WIZARDS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kevin Seraphin [8-9 FG, 19 points, 7 REB, +17 court ratio, 29 minutes]
WIZARDS GOAT OF THE GAME: Trevor Ariza [0-4 FG, 0 Points, 0 REB, 0 AST, -18 court ratio, 17 minutes]