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Wizards rally to beat Celtics

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman likes what he saw from his young basketball team on Saturday.

With good reason.

The Wizards rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit and then from eight down in the fourth quarter before pulling out a 106-99 win over the Boston Celtics.

"As I told our guys, they're beginning to grow up before my eyes, in terms of having the perseverance that this group of guys is starting to develop," Wittman said. "I'm seeing it. Just like tonight, we got off to a horrible start. I credit Boston, they came out and punched us right in the face in the first quarter. But I never saw down-ness from our guys."

Young guard John Wall and veteran forward Trevor Ariza powered a 16-2 run over 4:45 down the stretch that gave the Wizards their third straight victory, all on the road, and ended their seven-game overall and four-game road losing streaks against Boston.

"We don't let anything rattle us too much," said Ariza, who led all scorers with 27 points. "We're starting to learn that and mature as a team. We just play and chip away and know things are going to happen. It's a long game. We know teams can go on runs. They went on a run and we did too."

The Wizards (13-12) held the Celtics without a field goal for most of the final 6:14, as guard Avery Bradley's 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and a running hook by forward Jared Sullinger with 12.7 seconds remaining were Boston's only baskets down the stretch.

"Jordan Crawford came to me in the third quarter and said it perfect. He was like, 'we can't keep letting these teams stick around in the third quarter,' " said Bradley, who had 26 points, including 12 straight for his team bridging the third and fourth quarters.

It was the second straight collapse by the Celtics, still in first place in the dreadful Atlantic Division but 12-16 after two straight tough home losses.

Wall, who finished with 20 points and nine assists, and Ariza, who grabbed eight rebounds, both scored five points and had an assist in the big finish.

Ariza was 5-for-8 from 3-point range and had eight rebounds.

"On any given night it can be (any one of our guys) and tonight was definitely Trevor's night," said guard Bradley Beal, who came in averaging 20.9 points per game but had just nine, thanks to 3-for-12 shooting. "He kept knocking down shots and Nene kept knocking down free throws in the second half and John (Wall) had a big second half as well. As long as we just continue to do that, continue to stay confident and stick together as a team, we'll be somebody to be reckoned with."

The Wizards were told by Wittman before the game what happened to the Celtics against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. The Celtics scored the first six points of the game (all by Bradley) and went on to a 21-point lead during the first half, before losing. Saturday, Boston scored the first seven points of the game and went on to the 18-point lead.

In the Detroit game, the Boston lead was down to 11 at halftime. Saturday, the Wizards had it down to seven at the break, but failed to take their first lead until there was 2:52 left.

"We knew we've got three more quarters when we were down big," Beal said. "We just stayed with it, stayed poised and we chipped away in small pieces."

Center Marcin Gortat had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and forwards Kevin Seraphin and Nene came off the Washington bench to combine for 26 points and 14 rebounds.

Bradley had 12 points in three minutes in his big run. Sullinger had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and forward Brandon Bass added 11 points and 11 boards for Boston.

Notes: The game was the first between the teams since the Celtics traded with Washington for disgruntled G Jordan Crawford on Feb. 21. Crawford has excelled under new coach Brad Stevens, and had 11 points and eight assists in the game. ... The Celtics close their pre-Christmas slate at the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, while the Wizards are off until Friday, when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves. ... The trade winds blowing around the Celtics have calmed, with the Houston Rockets saying they have no plans to trade C Amer Asik and nothing coming of the Sacramento Kings' hunt for G Rajon Rondo, who has progressed to scrimmaging in practice as he nears his return from knee surgery. G Courtney Lee, one of the names mentioned in a proposed Asik deal, did not play in the second half on Saturday. Rookie F/C Kelly Olynyk also did not play. "I can't ... I can't figure it out other than I missed a couple shots," said Lee who was 0-for-3 shooting in seven minutes, 40 seconds of court time. "That could be the only reason why he didn't play me." He said he won't ask for a trade. "Nah. I been through worst (expletive) in life than basketball," he told CSNNE.com. "I don't give up on nothing that easy. It's never going to get to that point. No one man can make me want to walk away from a situation. Now if I get traded, I get traded. That's one thing. But I'll never ask for a trade."
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