WASHINGTON – A night after what their coach called a “flat game,” Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics held the Washington Wizards to 1-for-14 shooting at the start, then were barely better at the end.
Strong defensive stands early — Washington’s only scoring in the first 8 minutes came on Garnett’s goaltending call — and late, plus Paul Pierce’s 27 points, including a key 3-pointer down the stretch, helped the Celtics beat the Wizards 89-86 on Saturday for their first victory.
Boston is 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.
Bradley Beal, the No. 3 overall pick this year, missed all five of his shots and scored two points for the Wizards. Backup Jordan Crawford led the hosts with 21 points.
Another reserve, Kevin Seraphin, played after being sidelined by a right calf injury for the Wizards’ 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 give Boston back the lead with 2:30 left.
From there, neither team managed to score until Jason Terry’s two free throws with 1.2 seconds left padded Boston’s lead.
“Our defense put us in the situation to get where we were at,” Celtics guard Rajon Rondo said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight. We had a lot of easy shots we missed. We can’t control that, but what we can control is our effort on the defensive end and we did that tonight.”
Garnett scored 15 points, and Rajon Rondo added 12 points and 12 assists.
Rondo’s 19-foot jumper put Boston ahead 17-2 with a little less than 4½ minutes left in the first quarter.
A day after losing by 11 at home to Milwaukee, the Celtics led by as much as 24-8 before Washington made a game of it.
“When you lose two games in a row and you play as poorly as we played last night, you’re either going to come out with great intensity or we’re still going to be thinking about last night and get down 20,” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. “That cushion won the game for us.”
HEAT 119, NUGGETS 116: Ray Allen had a four-point play with 6.7 seconds left that put Miami ahead for good, Chris Bosh scored 40 points and the Heat held off visiting Denver.
LeBron James finished with 20 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, and Allen scored 23 for the Heat, who escaped when Danilo Gallinari’s 3-point try with 2 seconds left bounced off the rim.
NETS 107, RAPTORS 100: Brooklyn made a winning return to major pro sports in the first game at Barclays Center.
After a 55-year wait that was extended a couple extra days by Superstorm Sandy, the borough finally has a team of its own again, and the Nets think it’s going to be a good one.
Brook Lopez scored 27 points, and Deron Williams added 19 points and nine assists for the Nets. C.J. Watson finished with 15 points and Joe Johnson had 14.
A sold-out crowd of 17,732 that included entertainers Jay-Z, a part-owner, and wife Beyonce chanted “Brooklyn! Brooklyn!”
PACERS 106, KINGS 98: George Hill scored 18 points, including the first four in the second overtime, to lead Indiana past Sacramento in double overtime.
It was a remarkable defensive performance for the Pacers as Sacramento managed only three baskets in the final 10:45.
TRAIL BLAZERS 95, ROCKETS 85: Rookie Damian Lillard scored 20 points, including eight in overtime, and Portland slowed down James Harden, who had 24 points in his home debut but wasn’t as dominate as he was in the first two games. He scored 37 points and then a career-high 45 points in his first two games with Houston since last week’s trade from Oklahoma City.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Trail Blazers.
HORNETS 89, BULLS 82: Greivis Vasquez scored 18 points and New Orleans won at Chicago despite the absence of Anthony Davis, who is nursing a mild concussion.
Robin Lopez and Jason Smith scored 16 apiece. Ryan Anderson added 12 points and 13 rebounds, and the Hornets hit 20 of 23 free throws.
Luol Deng had 19 points and eight rebounds for Chicago. Nate Robinson scored 15, and Marco Belinelli added 13 against his former team, but the Bulls shot only 33 percent from the floor.