BOSTON -- Chris Wilcox wasn't on the floor when the Celtics finally defeated the Wizards in overtime Wednesday night. Boston's backup center wasn't playing down the stretch of regulation, when Washington rallied to force OT.
In fact, Wilcox, working his way back from heart surgery, logged only three minutes and 41 seconds in the game.
However, he made every second count.
"I thought Chris Wilcox saved the game for us singlehandedly with his effort," Boston coach Doc Rivers said after his team blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead but then escaped with a 100-94 win over the undermanned Wizards.
"I thought it was obvious. He didn't do anything but play hard and played with great effort, and I thought that that leadership led everybody else into doing it."
Brandon Bass scored five straight points and the Celtics played strong defense in overtime to finish off a sweep of the home-and-home series and improve to 2-2. But it was Wilcox's play that woke up his team.
The Celtics led by nine early but were sleepwalking late in the third quarter when Rivers went to Wilcox. The 11-year veteran scored six points, grabbed two rebounds, blocked a shot, slapped a ball away during a scramble and was just a general nuisance. He led the Celtics on an 8-0 run that helped build the 11-point lead the home team took with 10:10 left.
The Celtics blew the lead but still had enough to put away the Wizards, who were without star John Wall (knee) and Nene (foot). Washington guard Jordan Crawford played on an injured ankle.
It was clear Rivers wasn't happy with what he had seen, and when he came into the postgame media session, club public-relations man Jeff Twiss announced that there would be no practice Thursday.
"Because we executed so well tonight, we figured we'd give them a night off," Rivers said sarcastically.
It shouldn't have been this tough, but, just as occurred Saturday night in Washington, a Boston team with many new faces that is trying to come together was able to win the game against a shorthanded team.
The game was tied 88-88 at the end of regulation and 92-92 with 2:37 left in overtime before the Celtics tightened their defense and Bass, who only had six points in regulation, went off. Kevin Garnett added two free throws with 13.9 seconds left. The only basket the visitors scored in the last 2:37 was a meaningless late layup.
Rajon Rondo scored 18 points and had 14 assists (his 28th straight game with double-figure assists), Garnett had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Jason Terry added 16 points and some strong defense, which he is not noted for. Paul Pierce had 15 points and 10 rebounds but was just 2-for-12 from the floor.
Rookie Bradley Beal, Martell Webster and Kevin Seraphin had 16 points apiece and A.J. Price scored 15 for the Wizards, who fell to 0-3.
"We gotta learn to play down the stretch of games," Washington coach Randy Wittman said.
Beal, a 19-year-old who was the third pick in the draft, said of the Celtics, "We know they're vulnerable. We know that they are an aggressive team, but they are a lot older than we are, so we are going to try and wear them down."
The Wizards led by one late in regulation when Garnett stole the ball from Seraphin, who wrapped Garnett up and fouled him. Garnett threw his left elbow and was assessed a technical foul. Webster hit the foul shot, and Garnett made his two at the other end, setting off a wild finish.
Washington's Chris Singleton, who had 12 points, four rebounds and two assists in the fourth quarter, hit a flying slam with 9.4 seconds left, and Rondo missed a jumper at the buzzer to force OT.
NOTES: The Celtics have beaten the Wizards six straight times. ... Washington took only seven free throws, to 34 for Boston, and the Wizards didn't go to the line until there was 7:19 left in the third quarter. ... Garnett said Tuesday it will take some time for this Celtics group to jell. "I think, as far as our system and guys getting our system, we're still a work in progress," he said. "Continuity-wise, as a whole, I don't think we're where we want to be, obviously. But, you know, we put in a new system, new guys. You've got to expect there's going to be some type of bumps in the road, and we're no different from that." ... Garnett got a delay-of-game warning for not being ready in time at the start of the game, a new NBA rule ... The Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. Washington returns home to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. ... Crawford, who tweaked his left ankle when the teams played Saturday night, didn't practice Tuesday but vowed to play and did, coming off the bench late in the first quarter. He logged 14:41 and scored two points. ... A fan with a Quebec Nordiques jersey held up a sign that read: "Hey NHL, Look What You Made Me Do."