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11/03/2012 11:24 PM EDT
Pierce's late 3 lifts Celtics over Wizards 89-86
BOSTON 89, WASHINGTON 86

By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After his Boston Celtics held the Washington
Wizards to 1-for-14 shooting at the start, then scoreless for
nearly 3 minutes at the end, coach Doc Rivers spoke about "great
defensive intensity."



"Defense," he said, as if to underline the point, "is
exhausting."



Wizards guard Jordan Crawford offered another explanation for
the way things went in Boston's 89-86 victory over Washington on
Saturday night.



"We're forgetting plays," Crawford said.



A night after what Rivers called a "flat game," the Celtics used
defensive stands early - Washington's only scoring in the first
8 minutes came on Kevin Garnett's goaltending call - and late,
plus Paul Pierce's 27 points, including a key 3 down the
stretch, to edge the Wizards and improve to 1-2.



Washington dropped to 0-2 after its home opener in front of a
sellout crowd of 20,308 that occasionally included folks
chanting "Let's go, Celtics!" Washington is still without two
starters: point guard John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the
2010 draft, and center Nene.



"Our starts are so bad, you don't know if you're ever going to
see daylight again. I didn't know if the ... sun was coming up
tomorrow. I truly didn't," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said with
a chuckle after watching his club fall behind Boston 17-2 at the
outset. "That's how bad it was to me, sitting there."



Bradley Beal, the No. 3 overall pick this year, missed all five
of his shots and scored two points for the Wizards, while
Crawford led the hosts with 21 points despite hurting his left
ankle in the second half.



"I wasn't involved, really," Beal said. "I wasn't asserting
myself. I wasn't aggressive."



Another Wizards reserve, Kevin Seraphin, played after being
sidelined by a right calf injury for their season opener and
made his first seven shots, finishing with 19 points. But
Seraphin also threw the ball away with Washington down one point
and 28 seconds left.



Cartier Martin scored five consecutive points during a 16-4 run
that put Washington ahead 86-84 on Seraphin's turnaround
12-footer with a little under 3 minutes remaining.



"You don't want to give teams any life," Pierce said. "Today we
gave them life and they had a shot at us."



But with thousands in the stands asking for "De-fense!
De-fense!" Pierce made a 3-pointer to put Boston back in front
with 2 1/2 minutes left.



From there, neither team managed to score until Jason Terry's
two free throws with 1.2 seconds left padded Boston's lead.



"Our defense put us in the situation to get where we were at,"
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo said. "We didn't shoot the ball well
tonight. We had a lot of easy shots we missed. We can't control
that, but what we can control is our effort on the defensive end
and we did that tonight."



Rondo had 12 points - including two on an acrobatic, one-handed
push that he likened to a shot put - and 12 assists, while
Garnett scored 15.



Wall has a knee injury and is expected to miss another month or
so, while Nene is out with a foot problem and no one is quite
sure when he'll be back. Both are really missed on offense,
which was apparent not only with the way Washington opened the
game, but also by checking the assists column on the stat sheet:
The starting five combined for a grand total of one assist in
the first half.



Yes, the Wizards got points less than 1 1/2 minutes in, but that
was because Garnett was called for goaltending on a short shot
by Emeka Okafor. Otherwise, Washington missed 13 of its first 14
field-goal attempts. That run of futility included shanked
3-pointers and midrange jumpers, layups and putbacks. Even a
dunk.



Rondo's 19-foot jumper put Boston ahead 17-2 with a little less
than 4 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter. By then, three
Celtics - Garnett, Pierce and rookie Jared Sullinger - each had
at least twice as many points as the entire Wizards roster.



A day after losing by 11 at home to Milwaukee, the Celtics led
by as much as 24-8 before Washington made a game of it.



"When you lose two games in a row and you play as poorly as we
played last night, you're either going to come out with great
intensity or we're still going to be thinking about last night
and get down 20," Rivers said. "That cushion won the game for
us."



NOTES: Sullinger, the Ohio State forward taken in the first
round of the draft, made his first NBA start, replacing Brandon
Bass in Boston's lineup. Sullinger ended up with four points and
four fouls. ... The teams play each other again Wednesday at
Boston.



---



Howard Fendrich is on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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