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NBA Playoffs: Angry John Wall hits late 3 to help Wizards force Game 7 vs. Celtics

NBA Playoffs: Angry John Wall hits late 3 to help Wizards force Game 7 vs. Celtics

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WASHINGTON -- John Wall stood atop the scorer's table, popping his jersey, yelling and celebrating his 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left for the go-ahead basket that put his Washington Wizards into a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics.

After Washington's 92-91 victory extended the Eastern Conference semifinal, Wall offered his thoughts on Boston's failure to back up its fashion statement of wearing all black clothing to the arena Friday night.

"It was just funny to me. It was kind of copy-catting what we did," said Wall, whose Wizards donned dark outfits before a regular-season game between these teams that are building a rivalry. "It was in my mind throughout the game that I didn't want them to come here, wear all black, and basically call it a funeral."

Thanks to him and backcourt mate Bradley Beal, Washington's season will last at least one more game. Wall finished with 26 points, Beal scored a game-high 33, and they combined for 23 of Washington's 26 points in the back-and-forth fourth quarter.

"All we asked for was one more game," Wall said, "and we got it."

Game 7 is at Boston on Monday night. The winner will face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East finals starting Wednesday.

The host has won all 10 games between the Wizards and Celtics this season -- four in the regular season and six in the playoffs.

"Two best words in playoffs is `Game 7,'" Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "Seems like it was meant to be."

Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each scored 27 points for Boston, the conference's No. 1 seed.

But Bradley could do nothing defensively to stop Wall on the winning shot, coming off an inbound play that was designed to get Beal the ball. And Thomas' heave at the buzzer clanked off the rim.

"I thought it was going in," Thomas said. "Honestly I did."

Like the rest of his teammates, he was left to get back into his dark outfit afterward. Wearing a black shirt, he scoffed at the idea Wall and the Wizards derived some boost from knowing about the Celtics' choice of attire.

"Their season was on the line," he said. "They should have been motivated by everything else."

Boston, which won Game 5 at home by 22 points, led Game 6 by 69-66 entering the fourth quarter, when a relatively blah game became much more compelling. The final period was tight throughout, featuring six ties and nine lead changes.

Boston was up 87-82, but did not hold on.

"We put ourselves in position to win the game," said Al Horford, whose 16-foot baseline bank shot with 7.7 seconds left gave Boston its last lead at 91-89. "Couldn't finish it. ... We can't dwell on this."

Wall and Beal both shook off slow starts.

Beal was 0 for 7 on 3s before making his only one of the game with 69 seconds left. The Wizards as a whole started 1 for 15 from beyond the arc. And Wall started 1 for 12 overall before closing by making 8 of 13.

"If I go 1 for 30," he shrugged, "that's the way I go out."

Not since 1979 have the Wizards reached the conference finals, and Wall has made clear he'll consider this season -- Brooks' first as the team's coach -- a waste of time if they don't get there this time.

"We don't win Game 7," Wall said, "we feel like it was a failure."

Tip-ins
Celtics: Their 42-41 halftime lead was the visitors' first since edge since 2-0 on Horford's basket. ... Trying to reach the East finals for the first time since 2012.

Wizards: Had lost seven consecutive elimination games at home. ... Last reached the Eastern Conference finals in 1979. ... This was the first win by a home team facing elimination on its court in these NBA playoffs; hosts had been 0-10 in that situation until Friday. ... F Otto Porter Jr. had zero points.

Back in black
Some Celtics said it was purely coincidence that they showed up wearing black, the way the Wizards did for what became known as the "Funeral Game," won by Washington in January. Joked Brooks: "I'm going to talk to my lawyers. I think we have that trademarked, right? That's our thing."

Robert Covington (lower back contusion) out vs. Pelicans

Robert Covington (lower back contusion) out vs. Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS — Robert Covington will miss the Sixers' game Sunday night against the Pelicans in New Orleans because of a lower back contusion he suffered during a fall Saturday late against the Cavaliers.

X-rays and a CT scan came back negative. Covington is with the team in New Orleans and is doubtful for Tuesday's game in Minnesota.

Covington tumbled out of bounds and over courtside seats while he tried to save a possession during a Sixers comeback attempt. There is an approximate four-to-five inch drop between the court and the area where Covington landed. Many of his teammates were unaware of Covington's injury at first because it was out of their vision.

“It’s scary to see your teammate like that,” guard JJ Redick said. “They said he fell on his back. I wanted to make sure he’s walking and not in too much pain. But I just wish the best for him and hope he’s OK.”

The Sixers will have to replace Covington in the starting lineup. They will have Joel Embiid back after the big man sat out Saturday because of his back-to-back restriction.

Trevor Booker wastes no time impressing Sixers in debut

Trevor Booker wastes no time impressing Sixers in debut

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CLEVELAND — Trevor Booker made his transition to the Sixers look easy in his first 20 minutes with his new team.

The veteran forward was a highlight of the Sixers’ 105-98 loss to the Cavaliers (see observations). He came in off the bench and gave the Sixers just what they expected when they acquired him Thursday from the Nets in exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas. 

“What we just saw is an accurate snapshot of what he is,” Brown said. “He’s high energy. He’s got a big motor. There’s a level of maturity and toughness that we need.”

The Sixers were shorthanded in the frontcourt without Joel Embiid, who was not with the team because of his back-to-back restriction. (Embiid will play Sunday in New Orleans.) Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes were picking up the playing time, but both got in early foul trouble.

Booker was ready to go. He scored 12 points (4 for 6 from the field) and pulled down eight rebounds. Booker found himself at the right place at the right time, being a target for his teammates at the hoop.

“I think just going out there and playing with energy," Booker said, "finding easy baskets like that around the rim, those are things I have to do to get myself going and to help this team out.”

Booker is already forming chemistry with Ben Simmons, which could develop into a backcourt-frontcourt punch. Brown is excited for the younger players to share the court with the eighth-year veteran. 

“He’s a beast,” Simmons said. “I love playing with him so far. He’s a hard-working guy, he runs the floor, knows how to play the game, spaces the floor. He’s a good player.”

Booker echoed of Simmons, “He’s a tremendous passer, tremendous overall player. I can tell I’m going to have a lot of fun playing with him.”

Booker barely has had a second to catch his breath since the trade. He was in Mexico City with the Nets when he received the news. Booker estimates he got an hour of sleep Thursday night. He had to take an early morning connecting flight that eventually got him back to Brooklyn and then to Philadelphia for a physical. In a whirlwind of travel, he flew with the team Friday to Cleveland.

Still, he managed to look well rested and equally well prepared in his Sixers debut.

“Trevor can play on any team in the league,” JJ Redick said. “He’s easy to play with. He plays hard, he screens, he knows who he is, he stars in his role on a consistent basis. We’re lucky to have him.”