BOSTON -- A week's worth of turmoil and consternation brought the Boston Celtics to a momentous decision.
They decided to make a stand. To go to the basket. To make hard fouls when necessary. To a man, they decided to play with effort for 48 minutes.
The problem last night? The game went 58 minutes.
The Washington Bullets, the worst team in the Eastern Conference, defeated the Celtics 125-124 in double overtime at the Garden.
Celtics forward Dino Radja captured the depth of the loss best when he said: "Oh, God bless us. This may have cost us the playoffs."
After beating the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic last week, the Celtics have lost three in a row. Worse, Bullets coach Jimmy Lynam pointed out: "A [double-OT] loss like this hurts like crazy."
Lynam should know the feeling. The Bullets had lost their previous seven.
Scott Skiles provided the winning margin when he hit a 10-foot runner with 2.3 seconds remaining in the second OT. The Celtics got off one more shot, the result of a busted play, but Sherman Douglas' baseline heave hit the rim at the buzzer.
Calbert Cheaney had 28 points to lead the Bullets. Juwan Howard added 26 points and nine rebounds. Chris Webber, who fouled out in the first OT, finished with 20 and 10.
"We were on the ropes five, six, seven times," Lynam said. "But we hung. Obviously, it was a wild game."
For the Celtics, Dee Brown had 30 points and Eric Montross 21 points and 14 rebounds. Douglas had 20 points and 18 assists.
The Celtics outshot (48.6 percent to 46.8) and grossly outrebounded (63-44) the Bullets. How did they lose?
"Each time it looked like we had some sunshine, we screwed up," Celtics coach Chris Ford said.
From the start of the fourth quarter through the second OT, the Celtics missed 8 of 16 free throws.
During the same span, the Celtics turned over the ball eight times -- the last error the worst.
As Brown dribbled up the floor with the Celtics leading, 124-123, in the final quarter-minute of the second OT, Doug Overton, the Bullets' backup point guard, made a swipe at the ball, which bounced off Brown's foot and out of bounds.
The Bullets took possession with 16 seconds. They worked an inside-outside isolation with Howard and Skiles, who wound up with a relatively easy shot at the victory. Skiles converted effortlessly.
"They have some good players," Brown said. "You can't give good players too many opportunities to beat you. I did."