The Washington Wizards entered Sunday's game against Boston with one distinct advantage: the absence of Celtics All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. By the second half they had another, the absence of All-Star Ray Allen, who injured his ankle after making contact with Jan Vesely.
But after another hard-fought contest, the Wizards lost 100-94. Without Rondo and Allen, it was All-Star Paul Pierce who inflicted the damage, scoring 33 points and adding 10 assists and eight rebounds.
"We tried a lot of different people, tried to run at him and get it out of his hands," coach Flip Saunders said of the Wizards' defense on Pierce.
"When you get a guy with 34 and 10, he's basically involved with 64 of their 100 points directly."
The Wizards had another possibility for a win — to try and set a fast- paced tempo that the Celtics wouldn't be able to maintain. But Boston was able to keep up in transition.
"We were trying to run, and I thought we tried to get out as much as we can," Saunders said. "The tempo of their game is not a high-tempo game. We were pretty efficient overall offensively, except for some of the costly turnovers."
Both teams had 17 turnovers; the Celtics had the edge in assists 22-17, and the Wizards won the rebounding battle 37-35. But the Wizards were severely outplayed at the 3-point line, where the Celtics connected on 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) to the Wizards' woeful 2-for-15 (13.3 percent).
"It was tough," Washington point guard John Wall said. "The last five minutes, we was right there. We got to execute down the stretch and get easier shots. They did a great job of executing. They're a veteran team, and they been in those types of situations a lot."
Wall played one of his best games of the season, with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. He even took a turn trying to guard Pierce, at his request.
"I just wanted to guard him," Wall said. "It's tough to double-team him because he can just pick you apart, and that's what he did. I think I would have liked to try and guard him straight up. He's he a great player for a reason."
Jordan Crawford tried a different approach, a little trash talk, to the tune of a double technical foul in the third quarter. "You cant back down from nobody, no matter the circumstances," Crawford said.
"I just felt it was needed at the time. But you know, we came away with the loss. So it doesnt matter."
Crawford would not elaborate on exactly what was said. "Nothing. Just letting him know what it was." Whatever "it" was, it's worth noting that the two teams have played three times, and the Celtics have won all three.
"We was trying our best to get the ball out of his hands, but when a superstar wants the ball, theyre going to do things to get it," Nick Young said of Pierce. "We go in there confident, we've just got to find a way to pull it out in the end. We're playing as hard as we can."
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