Defense 'locked in' down the stretch

Defense 'locked in' down the stretch
December 23, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Dec 21, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Avery Bradley (0) works the ball against Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) during the first period at TD Garden.

(David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Surprisingly, even though the Wizards have won their last three games in a row -- all on the road -- they've still allowed opponents to average more than 100 points per game. 

The Boston Celtics jumped out to a 30-14 lead in the first quarter by shooting 12-for-20 from the field, or 60%. But in the last six minutes of the game, the Wizards held them to 2-for-12. The Brooklyn Nets stayed hot for four quarters but were 2-for-6 in the final 1:25. The New York Knicks had a red-hot third quarter, shooting 13-for-19 for 68.4% when they came back to take the lead, but in the fourth shot 5-for-13, or 38.5%. 

"Defense has been the key. Not getting too rattled," Trevor Ariza, the team's best one-on-one defender, said about going 3-0 last week. "Understanding that teams are going to go on runs especially at home, knowing that on the road you have to be disciplined and always locked into what we're doing."

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Closing games had been a problem for the Wizards (12-13), who had lost seven of their first nine games to start the season and recently ended a four-game losing streak in which three came by a total of seven points. 

"I want our guys to worry about us. We got a way that we want to play defense and it doesn't matter who we're playing against," coach Randy Wittman said. "Now when you're playing against a Kobe (Bryant), you're going to make your adjustments for that game plan. I want our guys to think system because in every game, there's going to be things we're not going to be able to prepare them for, a certain play we didn't cover with them, a certain substitution, whatever. They've got to have a concepts to deal with those situations.

"Coming down the stretch they've locked in. This is what we're doing on wing pick-and-roll and this is what we're doing on high pick-and-roll and this guy gets it in the post. That basically covers everything that you're going to deal with on the floor. I just think they've locked in. We talk about coming down the stretch getting three, four stops in a row and then if you can score on two of those four stops that's how you take an eight-point lead and dwindle it down. … It's a mind set."

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