BOSTON -- YOLO.
That, in a nutshell, is what Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens was thinking when Avery Bradley got the ball drifting toward the corner in a one-point game with 39 seconds to play. There were still 19 seconds on the shot clock when Bradley gathered the ball. Without hesitation, he elevated as two defenders charged out toward him.
Bradley, who had just had a similar look get halfway down before rimming out, found nothing but twine on this attempt and it helped the Celtics hang on for a 101-93 triumph over the Washington Wizards at TD Garden.
"I'm thinking, 'What the hell, let it fly!'" Stevens said of Bradley's bold late-game attempt that made it a two-possession game with 37 seconds to play. "We talk about playing with tempo and taking the first good shot, well, let it go. Hey, let's say that we pull it back out and we hold it [to run more clock] and we take a contested shot late because their defense is turned up a notch. At the end of the day, at the very least, it was a 2-for-1, right? So we're up one, we shoot the shot, we're going to get the ball last, which is a good thing. So I thought it was -- fading a little bit into the corner, kind of off one foot -- it wasn't exactly how you draw it up, but, hey, maybe we should draw it up that way. I don't know."
The Celtics have thrived this season while operating in transition and have struggled in fourth quarters in large part because, when other teams start to make shots and rally, Boston is forced to operate against set defenses. Stevens liked his team's late-game fearlessness in Sunday's win, even after the Wizards twice rallied within a point after being down 18 to start the final frame.
"That's twice this week that we've handled [opponents' runs] better," Stevens said. "Once this week we didn't [during a loss in Atlanta]. So I just thought we played gutsy at the end. Washington made the run, they went small and they put Rasual Butler at the 4 and they spread us out. But then we played gutsy at the end. Rondo's pass to Jeff [Green] was gutsy on the break; Avery's shot was gutsy and he made a huge, huge, huge shot."
Added Green: "It was really big. Kind of killed their momentum that they were gathering. I think Avery’s 3 kind of deflated them a little bit, it was a big-time shot."
Bradley finished with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He was a team-best plus-24 over 33 minutes.
Some other news and notes from Sunday's game:
• Hump returns too: Paul Pierce wasn't the only former Celtic in the building Sunday as Kris Humphries returned for the first time after spending last season in Boston. The hard-working Humphries has elevated to a starting role with the Wizards and finished with 8 points and 14 rebounds over 32 minutes. What does he remember from his time in Boston? "Just taking in some stuff from some good coaches and playing with some good players." Before the game, Stevens said, "I thought Kris was a great pro. And I told [Wizards coach] Randy [Wittman] that this summer when we talked. Because I thought [Humphries] positively impacted our locker room. I thought when things didn’t go his way, he worked; and when things went his way, he worked. Just responding the way you’re supposed to respond all the time. I have a lot of respect for him."
• Smart a step slow: Marcus Smart played 7:41 in Sunday's game, his longest stint since returning from an ankle injury last week. But Stevens didn't lean hard on Smart as he shakes the rust. Smart struggled with the speed of Washington's John Wall, who beat him to the basket a couple of times off the dribble. Smart picked up a couple of quick fouls after subbing in late in the third quarter and got a quick hook despite making one of two field goal attempts. He finished with two points and a steal.
• Loose balls: Kelly Olynyk went scoreless despite playing 16:22. He missed his only attempt of the game. ... Jared Sullinger quietly posted a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) and was plus-12 (second best on the team behind Rondo's plus-24) over 30 minutes.