BOSTON – With a split in hand, the Wizards blew another double-digit lead, missed two chances to win Game 2 at the end of regulation and despite a 40-point game from John Wall succumbed to the Boston Celtics in overtime at TD Garden on Tuesday, 129-119.
The return home for Game 3 at Verizon Center on Thursday in a must-win situation.
Isaiah Thomas (53 points) exploded in the fourth quarter. He entered it with 24 and knocked down a series of three-pointers until Avery Bradley (14 points) put them ahead with a three at 102-99.
The Wizards took a 110-104 lead by allowed threes from Thomas and Terry Rozier (12 points) and Wall and Bradley Beal each missed chances to win to end the game in regulation.
Marcin Gortat (14 points, 10 rebounds) fouled out 41 seconds into overtime and Markieff Morris (16 points, six rebounds) fouled out on a reach-in on Thomas for a three-point play that gave Boston an insurmountable six-point lead with 67 seconds left.
Wall had his second 40-plus point game of the postseason and bested his initial playoff career high of 42 in a Game 6 closeout of the Atlanta Hawks. He missed his jump shot on the final play of regulation and Beal’s offensive rebound follow-up shot was short.
Morris (16 points) got Washington back after briefly losing the lead in the fourth. He made a jumper to put them back ahead 105-104, had a blocked shot on help defense that led to a bucket for Beal and then drained another jumper for a 109-104 lead with 3:09 left.
Morris was a matchup nightmare for Boston which couldn’t find anyone capable of marking him. Gortat missed two chip shots at the rim early that could’ve boosted his totals and Jason Smith (10 points, two blocks) was a spark early to get the Wizards out to a 13-point lead with a pair of three-pointers.
Thomas’ two foul shots tied the score at 114 to force the extra period.
Jae Crowder (14 points) couldn’t replicate his Game 1 performance from long range when he made 6 of 8 threes. Al Horford (15 points, 12 rebounds) was kept in check by Gortat and Avery Bradley (14 points) wasn’t a force though his three put Boston ahead 102-99 until Morris’ explosion.
The Wizards led 50-40 with Beal (14 points) and Otto Porter (13 points, nine rebounds) combining to shoot 0-for-3 from the field.
It was a physical game from the start with Wall, Porter, Beal, Thomas and Bradley coming up limp at different times. Wall fell hard on the left hand/wrist that he broke two seasons ago in the second round of the playoffs but shook it off.
Including the regular season, the Wizards are 0-4 at TD Garden.
--Beal and Wall isolated Thomas on switches and picked up two fouls on him less than three minutes into the first quarter. The Celtics successfully hid Thomas on Kelly Oubre (12 points), who hesitated to make his move on the 5-9 point guard and allowed help to come seal him from the rim twice on blocked shots. Oubre isn’t comfortable breaking down opponents off the dribble and doesn’t have a low-post game but would’ve been better off giving up the ball quickly and cutting to the rim where Thomas had no chance of defending him if he got it back going full speed. And he’s not adept at passing in traffic to pick apart the help to get his teammates easier shots just yet.
--Morris didn’t look any worse for wear with his left ankle. In fact, he picked up his first foul by tossing Horford, who hurt him in Game 1 by sticking his foot underneath him on his jumper, to the floor while chasing a loose ball. The Celtics tried to defend Morris with Kelly Olynyk who got roasted off the dribble every time on the face up and picked up two quick fouls. But Morris, who was saddled with foul trouble for most of the series with the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, had three by 5:35 of the first half. The Celtics tried to defend him with guards such as Marcus Smart on switches and that didn’t work either as Morris didn’t show ill effects of the ankle injury. But after Morris picked up his fourth foul he re-entered with 8:06 left in the fourth and picked up his fifth on a three-point play for Thomas just 22 seconds in.
--Bradley collected an airball from Thomas and put it back for a 61-60 lead late in the second quarter but appeared to favor his side or back. He winced repeatedly and had to leave the floor. He came back and made a go-ahead three at 7:06 to put Boston up 102-99.
-- It’s difficult for Wizards coach Scott Brooks to keep Bojan Bogdanovic (zero points) on the floor because he has been a liability on both ends. He has trouble getting off his shots against quicker defenders and keeping up defensively with the cutters as they attack his feet. He played just eight minutes and shot 0-for-2.
--After the Celtics knocked down 19 threes in Game 1, the Wizards did a better job running them off the line and living with two-point jumpers instead. Still, they made 6 of 14 by halftime though they didn’t come as easily. Porter forced two misses by Rozier and the one that he did make came off of a contest with the shot clock expiring from the corner.
--Morris picked up his fourth foul at 7:47 of the third but ended up in a shoving match with Thomas. Both were hit with technical but Morris appeared unhappy with Porter having his nose bloodied.
--Amir Johnson started for Boston because coach Brad Stevens wanted his size vs. Morris. He lasted four minutes and didn’t start the second half. This was similar to what took place in a regular-season matchup when Johnson only played four minutes despite starting. When the third quarter began, Marcus Smart was on the floor in a three-guard lineup in Johnson’s place.
--With Wall off the floor and Brandon Jennings as his replacement, the Wizards were better running the offense with Beal on the ball. He automatically draws double teams and that helped even though he couldn’t find his own shot. Late in the second quarter, however, Beal was indecisive and out of sync with Gortat who wasn’t cutting to the basket quick enough and allowing Horford to trap the ball. Beal’s first made field goal didn’t come until 3:30 left in the half with a three-pointer. He had just four points – and four turnovers.