NBA Playoffs: Celtics pound Wizards in Game 5, take 3-2 series lead

NBA Playoffs: Celtics pound Wizards in Game 5, take 3-2 series lead

BOSTON -- Playing in the Garden has brought out the Boston Celtics' best basketball this postseason.

Wednesday night it was home to one of the best nights of Avery Bradley's career.

Bradley scored a playoff career-high 29 points, and the Celtics beat the Washington Wizards 123-101 to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

After being thoroughly picked apart in losses at Washington in Games 3 and 4, Boston shared the ball in Game 5, and again resembled the team that entered the game having won seven straight and 11 of 13 in the Garden against Washington.

Al Horford added 19 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Isaiah Thomas scored 18 points and handed out nine assists.

"We're a team. And it's going to take a team effort to beat the Washington Wizards," Bradley said.

Game 6 is Friday night in Washington, where the Wizards easily won their two games. If the Celtics win, they would move on to host the Cleveland Cavaliers to open the Eastern Conference finals.

Game 7 would be in Boston on Monday.

Boston led by as many as 26 points, negating Washington's physicality by spreading the floor and knocking down 16 3-pointers.

John Wall had 21 for the Wizards, who haven't won a playoff game in Boston since 1982.

The Wizards scored the first four points of game, but that was followed by 16-0 run by the Celtics.

"The great start kind of got us going on both ends of the floor," Bradley said. "Tonight we saw if we're able to start the right way, the game's in our control."

It marked the fourth time in the series that one team has had a run of at least 16-0, including three times in the first quarter. Washington had a 16-0 spurt to start Game 1, a 22-0 run in Game 3 and 26-0 burst in Game 4.

During Boston's first-quarter spurt Wednesday, the Wizards missed eight straight shots before it was ended by Otto Porter's basket.

Boston did a good job of sharing the ball, getting assists on 12 of 13 baskets in the opening 12 minutes. Thomas had five assists, more than Washington's entire team (four) in the period.

The Celtics also outrebounded the Wizards 48-45, after being outrebounded by 26 boards through each of the previous two games (95-69).

"They were the more physical team today," Wall said. "Throughout this whole series, whoever's the most physical team has won every game."

The Wizards responded with more energy after halftime, but each of their mini-runs were quickly beaten back by Boston, which continued to share the ball and take advantage of their fast-break opportunities.

The Celtics' lead grew to 26 points in the fourth quarter.

Thomas said one thing that became apparent in watching film from the Celtics' losses in Games 3 and 4 was that he had to adjust his game with three or four defenders guarding him.

He said he's found maturity to step back and not force plays that he might not have had earlier in his career.

"Now I'm seeing the game differently," Thomas said. "But at the same time, that's not going to stop me from being aggressive and trying to make plays, not just for myself but for my teammates as well."

Wizards: Fell to 2-9 all-time on the road in the playoffs vs. Celtics. ... Had 13 turnovers, leading to 23 Boston points. ... Shot just 24 percent from the 3-point line (7 of 29).

Celtics: Shot 53 percent (46 of 87) from the field for the game, their highest of the postseason. .. Wednesday marked only the third time Bradley has scored 20 or more points in a playoff game. The first two both came against Chicago in the first round. ... Shot 58 percent from the field (25 of 43) in the first half.

Trolling Oubre
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said he warned Kelly Oubre to wear earplugs for Game 5 after he served a one-game suspension for charging over Boston's Kelly Olynyk.

He was right.

Celtics fans chanted "We want Oubre! We want Oubre!" at times during the first quarter. Then, when Oubre started the second quarter for Wizards, it prompted fans in the Garden to chant again. Later they booed him loudly when he touched the ball.

Turnover woes
If the Wizards are going to have a chance to prolong the series, Brooks said they would have to start by limiting turnovers and Boston's 3-pointers.

"They made shots," Brooks said. "We helped them make shots by giving up a lot of transition points. ...They made 16 of 33 3s. I don't know that we contested any of them."

Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Raptors' win streak

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Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Raptors' win streak

TORONTO — Russell Westbrook had 37 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds for his fifth straight triple-double, Steven Adams scored 25 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Raptors 132-125 on Sunday, snapping Toronto's winning streak at 11.

Paul George scored 22 points and Carmelo Anthony had 15 as the Thunder extended their winning streak to six. Corey Brewer scored 10 points for Oklahoma City.

DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and Kyle Lowry fouled out with 22 points and 10 assists as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors suffered just their sixth home loss of the season. Toronto is 29-6 at Air Canada Centre, the best home record in the NBA.

DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and Raptors coach Dwane Casey were all ejected in the final minute for complaining to the officials. DeRozan was incensed after not getting a call on his drive with 30 seconds left, and picked up two technicals in the following 22 seconds (see full recap).

Davis leads Pelicans past Celtics
NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis had 34 points and 11 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the banged-up Boston Celtics 108-89 on Sunday night.

Second-year pro Cheick Diallo had a season-high 17 points and Nikola Mirotic added 16 for New Orleans, which was desperate to win after dropping four of its previous five while in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Davis capped his night by hitting a baseline fallaway as he was fouled by Abdel Nader to make it 106-85 with 3:35 to go. The shot brought the crowd to its feet as Davis stumbled toward the sideline, where he exchanged high-fives with several fans before walking to the foul line to hit his foul shot.

The play capped a 22-6, fourth-quarter run to blow open what had been a tight game for most of the first three quarters (see full recap).

Harden scores 34 as Rockets hold off Timberwolves
MINNEAPOLIS — James Harden had 34 points and 12 assists, and Houston held off a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 129-120 on Sunday night for the Rockets' 26th win in 28 games.

The West's top team led by as many as 25 before the Timberwolves, holding on for dear life in a tightening playoff race, pulled within five in the fourth. The loss dropped the Wolves into the eighth playoff spot after they started the day in a three-way tie for fifth.

Harden had 11 points in the final 6:34, including a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left that effectively secured the win.

Chris Paul and Clint Capela each had 16 points for the Rockets.

Jeff Teague led Minnesota with 23 points, Andrew Wiggins had 21, and Karl-Anthony Towns and Jamal Crawford each added 20 (see full recap).

Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

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Bradley Beal helps Wizards pull even with Pacers

WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal scored 19 points, Marcin Gortat had 18 and the Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night in a possible playoff preview.

Washington (40-30) earned its second straight win to move into a tie with Indiana for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards also claimed the first tiebreaker by taking two of three in the season series.

Gortat was 6 for 8 from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds. He scored a total of 17 points in his previous four games.

Washington went 10 for 20 from 3-point range and shot 54.8 percent from the field overall. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had 16 points for the Wizards, and Markieff Morris added 15 (see full recap).

Giannis' double-double helps Bucks hold on to beat Hawks
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 12 rebounds, Khris Middleton added 23 points and the Milwaukee Bucks held on for a 122-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

The Bucks finished off the Eastern Conference's worst team with a game-ending 11-5 run, pushing the pace after the Hawks lost ball-handler Dennis Schroder. The guard fouled out with 2:46 left, and was called for a technical foul after exchanging words with an official on the way to the sideline.

Middleton hit the free throw that started the run. The Hawks looked rushed on their next two possessions with a turnover and a blocked shot, allowing the Bucks to brush past them.

Trailing by 13 at one point, Atlanta put up a spirited fight before losing its 50th game of the year. Taurean Prince scored 38 points, while Schroder finished with 18 (see full recap).

LeBron gets 33 points in triple-double as Cavs beat Bulls
CHICAGO — LeBron James scored 33 points as part of a triple-double, Jordan Clarkson had a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:27 left and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 114-109 on Saturday night.

James had 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his 15th triple-double of the season, and Jeff Green added 21 points. Clarkson finished with 19 points to help the Cavaliers salvage a six-game split on their season-high six-game trip.

Denzel Valentine led Chicago with a career-high 34 points, hitting 8 of 11 from long range. The Bulls wiped out a 17-point halftime deficit even though they held out banged-up core players Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, only to come up short in the closing minutes.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue spent the second half in the locker room with an illness, another hit for an already short-handed team (see full recap).