Wizards erase 18-point deficit, top Celtics

Wizards erase 18-point deficit, top Celtics
December 21, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Happy Holidays! Wall & Webster interrupt Ariza's interview

Trevor Ariza scored 27 points and hit a 3-pointer that capped a fourth-quarter run that carried the Washington Wizards to a 106-99 comeback win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday.

In the end, the Wizards won their third consecutive road game of the week with defense. They battled from 18 points down -- and overcame a blazing stretch of shooting by Avery Bradley -- and didn't get their first lead until 2:52 remained in the fourth quarter on a jumper by John Wall. But Wall had six steals as he dominated the point guard play against former teammate Jordan Crawford.

After Bradley Beal closed out victories in the first two games on the road, it was Wall's turn. He finished with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting after a slow start. It was when he made his shots, however, that made the difference. His three-pointer, his first made one after four misses, cut the deficit to 92-91. Nene's jump shot tied the score at 93 and then Wall's mid-range shot in transition gave them a lead they'd never relinquish. And Wall only had one turnover after compiling 32 in his previous six games.

The Celtics (12-16) jumped out to a 30-14 lead in the first quarter on 60% shooting as the Wizards went 6-for-24. Bradley Beal made a three-pointer in transition and a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 42-37 for Washington (12-13). 

Bradley, who finished with a team-high 26 points on 12-for-18 shooting, scored 16 points in a seven-minute stretch between the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters for Boston. But the Celtics failed to convert a field goal for the last six minutes. Jared Sullinger was a difficult cover as he had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Crawford had seven first-quarter points but only four the rest of the way and five turnovers. 

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The Celtics went on a drought after Jeff Green's bucket with just more than six minutes left for a 92-84 lead. They didn't convert another field goal until 35 seconds remained.

Turning point: The Wizards responded to a 7-0 run that put them down 62-53 with a 7-0 run of their own with a jumper from Wall, a three-pointer from Ariza and then Wall stripped Crawford from behind that led to a fast-break layup. They went into the fourth trailing just 76-74 in a game that almost turned into a blowout. 

Best in show: Ariza. This could easily go to Wall, but Ariza kept them in it early when much didn't appear to go right. Ariza scored 14 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter when he made pivotal plays, including a rainbow jumper on a broken play with the shot clock expiring and a three-pointer in the fourth that stretched the lead to 98-93. He shot 9 of 18, including 5 of 8 from three-point range, and had eight rebounds. And he held Jeff Green to 4-for-13 shooting, 0 of 6 from three.

Time limits: Nene came off the bench to play 23 minutes and was preserved until the fourth quarter where his facilitating allowed the Wizards to pull away. Nene had 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. His assists to Martell Webster on a backdoor cut produced a layup to start a run the the Celtics, and his shuffle pass to Marcin Gortat in the paint allowed them to seal it at 100-94. Beal wasn't quite as effective as he had been in his previous two games, shooting 3-for-12 for nine points in just 28 minutes. 

Warming up: Otto Porter logged 12 minutes of play and looked to be more in sync, playing with backup point guard Garrett Temple. Porter shot 2-for-4 , including a difficult reverse layup on a feed from Temple that cut the deficit to 88-84 in the fourth. He also played solid defense on Green on the final play of the first half to force an airball in the low post. 

DNP: Eric Maynor, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely did not play again. 

Up next: The Wizards returned to D.C. after the game, likely will be off Sunday and practice early in the week heading into Christmas. They don't play their next game until Friday at the Minnesota Timberwolves (CSN+, 8 p.m. ET).

From the locker room:

"They're beginning to grow up before my eyes in terms of having the perseverance. This group of guys, its starting to develop. We just kept pecking way. We came out in the third quarter and kind of changed our identity defensively a little bit. We changed some things. It got us activity. We got a lot of deflections. We got a lot of turnovers (turned) into fast breaks. Down the stretch we executed and we got stops." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman on 22-7 run to end the game

"We sat down defensively. We got stops and we got out in transition. We're at our best when we get stops and turning them into points." -- Ariza

"Avery had an amazing second half. He found his stroke. That was great for their team. But we were resilient on the defensive end." -- Webster