Wizards drop exhibition finale

Stackhouse scores 36, but Celtics pull away late for 104-95 victory

Pro Basketball

October 26, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - With his club looking forward to going home after a seven-game, 11-day preseason trip, Washington Wizards coach Doug Collins wanted only two things from last night's exhibition finale against the Boston Celtics.

Collins wanted his team to finish the game healthy and for the Wizards to exert more effort on defense. Half of Collins' wishes came true - Washington escaped from the game injury-free.

But, with the season opener in Toronto five days away, the Wizards will need to beef up their interior defense after suffering a 104-95 loss to the Celtics at the FleetCenter.

The Wizards were hurt in the interior by the normally jump- shot happy Celtics, who outscored Washington 48-20 in the paint while hitting 49 percent of their shots from the field.

"They are a very tough team to defend because they have two great players [Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker] that really command double teams," said Collins of the Celtics. "But it's difficult to double-team because they have great three-point shooters. So, it's hard to help and that makes them a very, very tough team to try to defend."

Indeed, if not for Jerry Stackhouse's brilliant 36-point performance, things could have been a lot worse for Washington, which finished the preseason 5-3. It is the team's best exhibition mark since 1983-84, when it went 6-2.

Stackhouse shot 11-for-15 from the field, hitting three of five three-pointers, and made all 11 of his free throws in 36 minutes.

"We got out and we got up and down a little more," said Stackhouse. "We want to get our aggression up, and for the most part, we were able to do that. We got in a rhythm, the ball was moving and we had good looks at the basket."

Pierce had 31 points, going 8-for-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Walker had 13 points and a game-high nine assists. Though Pierce and Walker were busy, Boston's centers, Tony Battie and Vin Baker, were outscoring Washington's Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas, 20-0.

Michael Jordan, in his third appearance of the preseason, continued to struggle, scoring 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting. He committed three turnovers in 23 minutes, though he had four assists.

"We're coming along," Jordan said. "This is another game we learn from, and everything from here counts. My game is coming. I'm not worried about that. Each game I play, I feel my rhythm and timing coming back. My knee feels great. My energy feels good."

The Celtics made the most of a big disparity in free throws in the fourth period, where they went to the line 17 times to just one for Washington in the first six minutes of the quarter.

Washington 25 24 25 21 - 95

Boston 26 23 22 33 - 104

WASHINGTON-Russell 1-7 1-2 4, Kw.Brown 4-9 3-5 11, Haywood 0-1 0-0 0, Hughes 6-9 3-4 15, Stackhouse 11-15 11-11 36, Lue 3-7 0-0 7, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan 5-13 3-5 14, Oakley 0-2 0-0 0, Jeffries 2-4 4-7 8, Dixon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-68 25-34 95. BOSTON-Walker 6-14 0-0 13, E.Williams 2-5 2-4 6, Battie 5-7 4-4 14, Delk 6-11 2-3 15, Pierce 10-20 10-15 31, Baker 2-4 2-2 6, McCarty 2-2 0-0 5, S.Williams 3-7 7-7 14, Sundov 0-2 0-0 0, Bremer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 36-73 27-35 3-point goals - Washington 6-14 (Stackhouse 3-5, Lue 1-2, Jordan 1-2, Russell 1-4, Dixon 0-1), Boston 5-21 (McCarty 1-1, S.Williams 1-3, Pierce 1-5, Delk 1-5, Walker 1-5, Bremer 0-1, E.Williams 0-1). Fouled out - Battie. Rebounds - Washington 48 (Russell 9), Boston 42 (Pierce 7). Assists - Washington 21 (Russell 5), Boston 20 (Walker 9). Total fouls - Washington 33, Boston 30. Technicals-Haywood, Washington coach Collins, Boston coach O'Brien, Boston defensive three seconds 2. A - 15,229.

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