BOSTON — For three and half quarters, it looked as though the Boston Celtics were just toying with the Washington Wizards — keeping the score close before shifting into another gear and blowing the visitors out of the gym.
The Wizards had other ideas. After riding the ample shoulders of center Kevin Seraphin for most of the game, the rest of the team finally found the offensive rhythm coach Randy Wittman has been looking for and kept pace with the Celtics to force overtime Wednesday night at TD Garden.
In overtime, the veteran Celtics took control and closed the Wizards out, 100-94. The box score will show just another loss for the Wizards, now 0-3, but the second-half comeback, along with a few breakout performances, will give the team something to build on.
"It's a learning process," Wittman said. "It's disappointing because we lost, but [there were] a lot of good things. I thought we had a lot of good looks and we are not making shots right now, especially at the start of games."
Where the Wizards are getting their much needed spark is from the bench, especially from Seraphin, who is simply the best player in a Wizards uniform right now.
After a 19-point performance against the Celtics at Verizon Center on Saturday, Seraphin followed it up with 16 points, adding nine rebounds and three assists, all while being guarded for much of the game by 14-time All-Star Kevin Garnett. Near the end of the game, the Celtics began to double-team Seraphin, leading to a few costly turnovers (six), but Seraphin took it as a sign of respect.
"I've never been in this situation," Seraphin said. "Now I have to learn, watch some video and figure out how to play with it. I still need to learn and I'm learning right now."
It was also a big night for rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal, who missed 11 of 13 shots in his first two games. Beal scored 16 points, added four rebounds and three assists. Beal was relieved when his first shot fell, but was far more pleased with his overall game than his point total.
"I was aggressive on both ends of the floor," Beal said. "I was rebounding, I was playing great defense and then I scored a few points as well. Coach told me when he took me out the first time, 'I don't care of you keep missing.' He said I was just being aggressive, so I was just proud of myself doing that."
Chris Singleton also had a strong performance. Singleton, who has yet to find his spot in Wittman's rotation, played 17 minutes in the season opener against Cleveland, but just 18 seconds in the home opener against Boston.
Singleton made his first five shots and finished with 14 points on 6 of 10 from the floor, and added five rebounds and two assists.
"I just gave my team a lift," Singleton said. "I tried to pick up the energy. I haven't played a lot, so I tried to make sure my effort was there. I tried to do the little things and help my team get a win."
Boston was led by their All-Star trio of Garnett (20 points), Rajon Rondo (18) and Paul Pierce (15). Newly acquired Jason Terry added 16.
Where the Wizards fell short was in the turnover department (19) and at the foul line, where they only had seven free throws to the Celtics' 34.
"I can't understand that," Wittman said of the free throw disparity, but left it at that, perhaps careful not to sound critical of the officiating.
The Wizards will return to Verizon Center on Friday where they will face the Milwaukee Bucks, still in search of their first win of the year.
"We've got to learn to play down the stretch of games," Wittman said. "Taking care of the ball, execution, and playing down the stretch."
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