WASHINGTON (AP) — After his Boston Celtics held the Washington Wizards to 1-for-14 shooting at the start, then scoreless for nearly 3 minutes at the end, coach Doc Rivers spoke about "great defensive intensity."
"Defense," he said, as if to underline the point, "is exhausting."
Wizards guard Jordan Crawford offered another explanation for the way things went in Boston's 89-86 victory over Washington on Saturday night.
"We're forgetting plays," Crawford said.
A night after what Rivers called a "flat game," the Celtics used defensive stands early — Washington's only scoring in the first 8 minutes came on Kevin Garnett's goaltending call — and late, plus Paul Pierce's 27 points, including a key 3 down the stretch, to edge the Wizards and improve to 1-2.
Washington dropped to 0-2 after its home opener in front of a sellout crowd of 20,308 that occasionally included folks chanting "Let's go, Celtics!" Washington is still without two starters: point guard John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, and center Nene.
"Our starts are so bad, you don't know if you're ever going to see daylight again. I didn't know if the ... sun was coming up tomorrow. I truly didn't," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said with a chuckle after watching his club fall behind Boston 17-2 at the outset. "That's how bad it was to me, sitting there."
Bradley Beal, the No. 3 overall pick this year, missed all five of his shots and scored two points for the Wizards, while Crawford led the hosts with 21 points despite hurting his left ankle in the second half.
"I wasn't involved, really," Beal said. "I wasn't asserting myself. I wasn't aggressive."
Another Wizards reserve, Kevin Seraphin, played after being sidelined by a right calf injury for their season opener and made his first seven shots, finishing with 19 points. But Seraphin also threw the ball away with Washington down one point and 28 seconds left.
Cartier Martin scored five consecutive points during a 16-4 run that put Washington ahead 86-84 on Seraphin's turnaround 12-footer with a little under 3 minutes remaining.
"You don't want to give teams any life," Pierce said. "Today we gave them life and they had a shot at us."
But with thousands in the stands asking for "De-fense! De-fense!" Pierce made a 3-pointer to put Boston back in front with 2½ minutes left.