The Boston Celtics’ second unit nearly completed a historic comeback win against the Washington Wizards Monday night. In the end, old friend Paul Pierce (game-high 28 points) helped make sure his former team found another heartbreaking way to lose late, as the Celtics dropped a 133-132 double overtime thriller at the Verizon Center.
For three quarters, the Wizards appeared to be on their way to a blowout win, outworking Boston’s starters on both ends of the floor. The Celtics trailed by as many as 23 points in the second half, before the team’s second unit led a frantic comeback to close the deficit. Evan Turner (18 points) sent the game into overtime by hitting a last gasp 3-pointer from the corner, following an offensive rebound with 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation. Brandon Bass also had a chance to win the game for the Celtics in the final play of first overtime, but his layup rimmed out as time expired.
Marcus Smart (23 points), Kelly Olynyk (19 points), and Bass (19 points) all played big minutes as the battle continued between the Eastern Conference foes, but the visitors simply could not close the deal, blowing two seven-point leads in both extra periods.
John Wall (26 points, 17 assists) was nearly unstoppable in transition during both overtimes after the Celtics took those seven-point advantages. The point guard used his speed to finish off the Wizards comeback with a three-point play on a fast break with just under a minute remaining in double overtime. Pierce also played stellar defense on Jeff Green (28 points) on the next possession, drawing an offensive foul which enabled the Wizards to hold on to their late lead.
Turner had one final chance to win the game in the final seconds of double overtime, but his mid-range jumper was off the mark, putting an end to the Celtics three-game winning streak.
Overall, the Celtics set a new franchise record for bench points with 82, showing off the unique brand of depth they have up-and-down the roster at its best. Stevens showed off his faith in the group, riding with mostly all reserves for nearly the final 24-plus minutes of the game, leaving guys like Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger glued to the bench.
It was the right move, and almost gave the Celtics a memorable win. However, for now, you can mark this one down as a game of the year candidate the Celtics probably would prefer to forget.