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Flip: ‘We choked’ against Celtics

03.08.10 at 2:04 am ET
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Kevin Garnett takes the ball to the basket during Sunday's night win over the Wizards. (AP)

Kevin Garnett takes the ball to the basket during Sunday's night win over the Wizards. (AP)

Flip Saunders knows Kevin Garnett well enough. For 10 seasons, Saunders coached the perennial All-Star with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With all apologizes to Jim Croce, Saunders, now the head coach of the Wizards, knows you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind and you don’t tick off the Big Ticket.

The last part of that equation was especially troublesome in Saunders’ eyes as he watched his Wizards blow a 79-66 lead with just over six minutes to go Sunday night.

“Well, we choked,” Saunders began. “Six minutes to go, we’re up 13. We’ve got young guys, they don’t know what it’s like to be in a situation. We start talking to Garnett, start talking trash and everything else. Got Garnett and those guys juiced up and we just pissed down our leg the last six minutes.

“You have a veteran team that knows how to close out games against a young team that hasn’t been there, and instead of just letting a sleeping dog lie, we juiced up their energies. We had plays coming off timeouts and we had guys going to the wrong side of the floor, we were so discombobulated.”

[Click here to hear Saunders rip into his team for coming unglued at the end of the game.]

Especially disturbing to Saunders was the behavior of Andray Blatche, who despite having 23 points and nine rebounds felt empowered to start trash-talking to Garnett.

“Dray had terrible decisions,” Saunders said. “Dray is wolfing the whole time to Kevin Garnett. You can’t do those things. It’s a learning process. When you’re coming up and establishing yourself, he had 23 points with six minutes to go, couldn’t hardly get a shot off the last six minutes. You don’t take a guy who’s been Defensive Player of the Year three times, probably the best power forward, and all of a sudden get that guy juiced up to play against you. You’ve got no chance.”

Saunders can only hope that his young team, led by Blatche, Al Thornton and JaVale McGee, use Sunday as a learning tool.

“Boston came at them, and they were coming back and our guys didn’t have an answer,” Saunders said. “They panicked. As you said, we didn’t have a settling factor on the floor to be able to settle us down.

“For 42 minutes we dominated the game. We got beat in the last six minutes of the game, and we got beat because we beat ourselves by getting them energized, which got their crowd energized. We did not make one play down the stretch.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Flip Saunders, NBA, Washington Wizards
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