Wizards trip yet again, 111-102

Boston holds Washington scoreless for final 3:46 in delivering 6th loss in row

Pro Basketball

March 14, 2004|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - After finding inventive ways to lose the previous three games, the Washington Wizards came up with something different last night at MCI Center against the Boston Celtics: a conventional, heartbreaking 111-102 defeat.

With 17 games to play in what is becoming an increasingly miserable season, the Wizards (20-45), who have now dropped six straight, are reduced to searching for success within failure.

For coach Eddie Jordan, last night's nugget to extract was that the Wizards didn't give up.

"I'm proud of my guys' efforts," said Jordan. "I thought they played the right way. We played very hard. We just didn't make the winning plays down the stretch. They did. I thought we had good looks. We executed the right way very well, and enough to get the open looks for the right people. There were a couple of turnovers along the way, but we just don't have enough right now."

Indeed, the Wizards, who shot 48 percent from the field and led by five points deep into the fourth, played as well as they have over the past eight days. But they failed to score over the final 3:46 as Boston closed the game with a 14-0 spurt.

Washington had particular trouble with Paul Pierce, who torched it for 37 points, scoring 13 of Boston's last 25 in the fourth quarter - including 12 of 15 during one span.

Jerry Stackhouse, in his second game back after resting and rehabbing his ailing knee, had 19 points but also had the principal task of guarding Pierce in the fourth and was limited in what he could do defensively. It told on him in the second half, too, where he was 2-for-10 from the field.

"I'm getting back into it fast," said Stackhouse. "It's not easy. I come back and jump on the [seventh-] leading scorer in the NBA, a guy that's getting the ball every time, so that pays a toll on you, spinning and trying to guard guys like that, then having to come down and make plays on the offensive end. We didn't make the winning plays. They made the plays, and I say we, because we're a team, but I feel I personally had the chance to make the plays and it didn't happen."

Jordan said the Wizards considered a defensive substitution in the fourth, but elected to stay with the 6-foot-6 Stackhouse because he was closer in height to Pierce (also 6-6) than the coach's other likely option, 6-10 Jared Jeffries. In the past, Jordan said, Pierce has struggled against smaller players, but he had few such problems last night.

"[If you] make him a driver, just stay to him and then you step up with help defense, that's when he gets in trouble," said Jordan. "But he willed his team to a win."

The Wizards' last three losses had been surreal. On Tuesday, they surrendered 71 points in the second half to Denver in losing by 30 - the worst loss of the season. Wednesday's trip into Rod Serling-land saw Orlando's Tracy McGrady drop 62 points on the Wizards' head. Friday night's loss saw Washington give up 83 points in the second half to Atlanta, arguably one of the NBA's worst teams.

Last night, however, the Wizards, who fell to 1-17 against Atlantic Division teams this season, acquitted themselves well, with Gilbert Arenas scoring 28 points with eight rebounds. Etan Thomas added a career-high 21 points off the bench.

In the end, however, no matter the effort, the result was the same.

FGFTReb

BOSTONMinM-AM-AO-TAPFPTS

Welsch211-71-21-4224

Hunter161-10-01-2032

Blount373-55-74-111411

Pierce4413-288-91-124237

Atkins288-131-20-35017

Davis316-113-41-45215

McCarty304-110-01-32012

Mihm132-61-44-4035

Banks204-70-01-3648

Totals24042-8919-2814-462520111

Percentages: FG .472, FT .679. 3-point goals: 8-23, .348 (McCarty 4-9, Pierce 3-9, Welsch 1-2, Atkins 0-3). Team rebounds: 14. Team Turnovers: 20 (29 PTS). Blocked shots: 4 (Blount 3, Mihm). Turnovers: 18 (Blount 6, Banks 4, Hunter 2, Davis 2, McCarty, Pierce, Welsch, Mihm). Steals: 13 (Pierce 3, Davis 3, Blount 2, Banks 2, Welsch 2, Atkins). Technical fouls: None. FGFTReb

WASHINGTONMinM-AM-AO-TAPFPTS

Stackhouse418-223-31-36419

Brown365-83-82-112413

Haywood131-20-01-2012

Dixon325-150-00-32012

Arenas4712-203-52-68528

Laettner111-21-20-4113

Thomas326-79-102-70521

Blake70-20-00-0210

Jeffries131-22-22-3014

Butler80-20-00-0020

Totals24039-8221-3010-392124102

Percentages: FG .476, FT .700. 3-point goals: 3-18, .167 (Dixon 2-7, Arenas 1-6, Stackhouse 0-5). Team rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: 19 (19 PTS). Blocked shots: 5 (Haywood 2, Thomas, Brown, Jeffries). Turnovers: 18 (Arenas 7, Stackhouse 6, Thomas 2, Dixon 2, Laettner). Steals: 12 (Arenas 5, Dixon 2, Stackhouse 2, Thomas, Jeffries, Butler). Technical fouls: None. Boston27272532-111

Washington30302319-102

A-14,789 (20,674). T-2:15. Officials-Jim Clark, Ron Olesiak, Gary Zielinski.

Next for Wizards

Opponent: New York Knicks

Site: Madison Square Garden, New York

When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: CN8/WTEM (980 AM)

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