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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

BOX SCORE

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."

Mitchell-Nance Jr. showdown highlights All-Star Saturday

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AP Images

Mitchell-Nance Jr. showdown highlights All-Star Saturday

LOS ANGELES — Rookie Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz put on a show in the slam dunk contest to cap off NBA All-Star Saturday.

Mitchell edged Larry Nance Jr. by two points, sealing his victory with a close approximation of the 360-degree spin dunk that Vince Carter used to win the 2000 contest.

"I wanted this so badly," Mitchell said. "This is one of my favorite events of All-Star weekend. To not only be in it, but to win it, it's crazy."

Before making his winning dunk, Mitchell peeled off his Jazz jersey and wore a vintage Carter jersey from the Toronto Raptors.

Mitchell -- three inches shorter than the 6-foot-6 Carter -- needed a score of 47 to beat Nance, and he got a 48 from the five judges: DJ Khaled, Mark Wahlberg, Chris Rock and Hall of Famers Julius Erving and Lisa Leslie.

Nance, who was trying to win the contest 34 years after his father won it, had earned a perfect 50 with a dunk off a double alley-oop off the glass.

Mitchell advanced to the finals with a creative dunk in the first round that used his sister, Jordan, as well as Kevin Hart and the comedian's son as props. For that dunk, Mitchell wore a Darrell Griffith Jazz jersey. Griffith participated in the first slam dunk contest in 1984.

"I appreciate Kevin Hart coming out there and helping me out," Mitchell said. "He's my favorite comedian."

Booker wins 3-point contest with record final round
Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns won the 3-point contest with a record 28 points in the final round. He beat 2016 champion Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Los Angeles Clippers.

"It feels really good," Booker said. "I wanted to go out there and make a name for myself."

Did he ever. He was sensational in the final round on Saturday, when he missed only five of 25 shots.

Each player shot five five-ball racks with a one-minute time limit. The final ball of each one was a "money ball" worth two points, and one of the racks, usually the last one, was all money balls. Booker made the money ball shot on his first four racks, and then made four of the five balls on the money ball rack.

Harris, Booker and Thompson advanced from the eight-man field to the finals. Harris scored 17 points before Booker scorched the nets for 28 points. Thompson followed and scored 25 points.

The previous record was 27 points, set by Stephen Curry in 2015 and matched by Thompson the following year.

Booker, the 21-year-old sharpshooter in his third season with Phoenix, is averaging 24.2 points per game this season as the NBA's 12th-leading scorer. Eleven months after the shooting guard dropped 70 points against Boston to become the youngest player in NBA history to score even 60 in a game, Booker added another accolade to his promising career with the 3-Point title.

Thompson beat the buzzer with his final shot of the first round to reach the finals with 19 points. Booker also scored 19 and Harris had 18.

Dinwiddie tops Markkanen in Skills Challenge final 
Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets won the skills challenge to kick off NBA All-Star Saturday.

Dinwiddie, who played at Taft High in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, beat Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls in the final round.

The skills competition consisted of two players going head to head. They dribbled around pylons, passed the ball into a net, dribbled to the other end of the floor for a layup and then dribbled back to the other end to take a pull-up 3-pointer.

Eight players started the competition, with Dinwiddie and Markkanen advancing to the final.

Markkanen struggled passing the ball into the net, giving Dinwiddie a big lead. Dinwiddie dribbled down the floor and missed his first 3, but drained the next one to win.

Skills Challenge sparks Embiid's inner point guard

Skills Challenge sparks Embiid's inner point guard

LOS ANGELES — Joel Embiid loves the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean the Sixers' big man is unfazed by the magnitude of the stage on which he is competing.

“I was actually extremely nervous,” Embiid said after the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. "I don’t know why. My heart was beating so fast. I have no idea why. But I thought it was fun.”

Embiid was one of eight players to test their versatility in dribbling, passing and shooting drills. Embiid defeated Al Horford in the first round and lost in the second to Lauri Markkanen. Spencer Dinwiddie took home the trophy.

Embiid pulled off a comeback victory Horford. He trailed after the dribbling and passing drills but beat out the Celtics' veteran at the three-point line to advance.

“That was wild,” Embiid said. “I lost the ball, I didn’t make the first pass and then I just threw the other two balls. That’s a good way to do it instead of wasting time. Then I was way behind and I came back and I ended up making that three and won.”

Horford was stifled when he thought his first three-point shot attempt was going in … and it didn’t. That miss opened the opportunity for Embiid to claim the round.

“The shot, which I was making before, I felt good, and then I think the pressure got to me a little bit,” Horford said. “I just wasn’t expecting that (to miss). I thought I was good. So then by that time, Joel caught up to me.”

Markkanen, the Bulls' rookie, got the best of Embiid in the next round. Embiid tried to rush through the passing drill to catch up to Markkanen, who ended up crossing in front of him at halfcourt for the clinching trey.

“After he made the layup he was a little bit in front of me,” Markkanen said. “But we couldn’t switch sides, so I had to get to the other side someway. So I tried to sprint and get in front of him and distract him a little bit. I think that worked.”

Embiid said with a big smile, "I kind of thought Lauri kind of cheated a little bit. He went in front of me, but it’s all good. It's all fun."

Even if Embiid didn’t win this contest, it wasn’t a total loss. The 7-foot-2 center has long claimed he wants to be a guard one day, and he showed off those backcourt skills. 

“I think I can still be a point guard in my future,” Embiid said.

All-Star Weekend does not end for Embiid with the Skills Challenge. After competing in the Rising Stars game Friday and this contest on Saturday, Embiid has been making sure to preserve his energy for the All-Star Game Sunday. He will start for Team Stephen.