The pressure was on Kevin Seraphin. With 30 seconds left in the game and the Wizards down by one point, and Kevin Garnett draped all over him, Seraphin threw a wide cross-court pass that went out-of-bounds.
The Wizards 6-foot-10 center reacted with self-disgust, afraid his mistake had cost the Wizards a chance to upset the visiting Boston Celtics. Seraphin was hardly alone in the mistake department, and despite the last-second error, was one of the few bright spots for the Wizards. Without him, and Jordan Crawford, the Wizards would have been blown out of Verizon Center in their home opener on Saturday.
After a start so dismal the home crowd began booing in the first quarter, the Wizards' second unit, led by Seraphin (19) and Crawford (21), managed to turn a potential rout into a competitive game in the second quarter, before eventually losing losing 89-86.
"It's another start to a game that got us deep in a hole," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We fought hard and scratched until the end to try to pull this thing out and just couldn't. We just got blitzed again right at the start of the game and before you know it, we were 16 down."
The Wizards couldn't buy a basket in the opening eight minutes of the game and went without a field goal until the 3:53 mark of the first quarter when Trevor Booker connected on jumper. Before that, the Wizards' only two points came off of a goaltending call Kevin Garnett on Emeka Okafor.
The Wizards managed to score just 12 points in the first quarter and three of the five starters — Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Okafor — had truly forgettable performances. Ariza went 0-4, Beal went 0-5 and Okafor went 1-6. It was an especially disappointing night for Beal, who's parents and four brothers were in the stands to see him play his first Wizards home game.
"I think my defense was pretty solid, but offensively, I just wasn't involved, really," Beal said. "I wasn't being aggressive. It's on me, it's nobody else's fault. I have to be responsible for it. I have to basically step up."
The defensive effort was one of the few bright spots in the loss, out-rebounding the Celtics 46-35.
"I thought our defense was outstanding in the second half," Wittman said. "It was as good as we've played thus far defensively on a consistent basis."
A scary moment came for the Wizards with just over five minutes to play when Jordan Crawford came down hard on his left ankle and limped off to the training room. After having the ankle re-taped, Crawford returned to the game. The injury came at a bad time for Crawford, who was the Wizards' leading scorer.
"I'm all right," Crawford said. "Yeah, I'm going to play [in the next game]." The Wizards won't have to wait long — their next game is a rematch with the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday.
"I think it definitely could have been a different outcome, but they [Boston] played a good game," Crawford said. "I think we should learn form this and go on with it."
Although they've played just two games, and are off to an 0-2 start, Crawford said the team is not executing properly, and they're forgetting plays. It's not something Wittman wants to hear.
During the preseason, Wittman was continually shuffling his lineups in an effort to find the right mix of players who are effective together on the floor. It's something he's still working on.
"When you get off the starts like this, you have to think about it," Wittman said. "We need to get better consistent play, whether it's your starters or your bench, that's the main thing."
Wittman's also searching for the team's "go-to" guy. As of now, that title is up for grabs.
"Our starts are so bad, you don't know if you're ever going to see daylight again," Wittman said. "I didn't know if the sun was coming up tomorrow."
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