- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2011

The first three quarters of the Wizards home finale against the Celtics was a dull, lackluster performance by both teams. But the final quarter and overtime became an entertaining mix of hustle, effort and energy. In the end, the Wizards pulled out a 95-94 win over the Celtics to close out their home season at Verizon Center.

The Celtics played without all-star starters Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, going with a second team lineup led by Jeff Green and Glen Davis.

“We kind of took as a bit of disrespect that they were not trying to play those guys, so we just wanted to come out and fight,” said John Wall, who led all scorers with 24 points.

“We knew it was going to be tough. Those guys are veteran guys and have played in the playoffs before, so we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. We came out with a tough win. Hopefully, we can carry it on to next year,” Wall said.

Wizards forward Andray Blatche described the Celtics as a “great team”, even minus their normal starting lineup.

“They had their starters out, but we have a lot of starters out, too,” said Blatche, who had 16 points but only two rebounds, and fouled out of the game in the final period.

“It’s been an up and down season for us, but that’s what comes with having a lot of young players. Next year, they will know what it takes to win,” Blatche said.

Blatche also took a moment to appreciate the support of the fans during this injury plagued losing season.

“Everything we do is for the fans. They stuck with us,” Blatche said.

Guard Jordan Crawford, whose 17 points all seemed to come at key moments during the game, including the shot at sent the game into overtime, also took a moment to thank the fans.

“It was big to play like that in front of the fans,” Crawford said.  Crawford is quickly developing a reputation as a player unafraid to take any shot at any moment.  

“I always feel like if I can see the basket, it’s a good shot,” Crawford said.

Wizards coach Flip Saunders said Crawford’s attitude and fearlessness as a shooter speaks to his confidence.

“It doesn’t matter if he’s missed five, six, seven shots. Our guys aren’t afraid to go to him, and he’s not afraid to make those shots,” Saunders said.

Saunders called the game itself “a grinder.”

“When they take out a couple of their guys, you kind of relax, but we’ve got six guys sitting in suits on the sidelines ourselves,” Saunders said.

“They’ve got four guys that have been to the NBA Finals and the conference finals, guys that have won championship, so they are still a veteran team out the floor. We didn’t come out with the intensity up front that we really needed to set the tone, so our bench really energized us,” Saunders said.

Saunders credited Othyus Jeffers, Larry Owens and Yi Jianlian with giving the Wizards the spark that allowed them to overcome a lackluster first half and turn the game into the dogfight it became.

“Lately, we’ve been finding ways to make big shots. Next year when they’re in that situation, if you’re making a playoff run, it’s huge.”