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Wizards top Celtics for best win of season behind big games from their stars

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Wizards top Celtics for best win of season behind big games from their stars

The Washington Wizards beat the Boston Celtics 111-103 on Christmas Day. Here's analysis of what went down...

Even match: The Wizards believe they are better than their record would suggest and that certainly appeared true in their Christmas Day matchup with the Boston Celtics, owners of the best mark in the Eastern Conference. Washington (19-15) more than held their own in a back-and-forth battle with one of the NBA's heavyweights and emerged with their best win of the season so far.

The reason for that is because the Wizards' stars showed up. Bradley Beal caught fire early and John Wall and Otto Porter followed his lead. Beal looked like the best player on the court in the first half with 15 point and four rebounds. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Wall went off in the second and fourth quarters. He had 21 points, 14 assists and five rebounds. Porter was dominant at times in the second half and ended up with 20 points, six rebounds (three offensive), a steal and a block.

It was just one game, but life was a lot easier for Wall and Beal against the Celtics without Avery Bradley on the floor. The Celtics traded him to the Pistons over the summer and his presence was missed because the Wizards' backcourt at times could not be stopped. Boston tried everything and aside from holding them to 0-for-9 from three, it was a struggle.

The Celtics still have options with two physical guards in Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart and two uber-athletic wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. But the inexperience of Brown and Tatum was taken advantage of, in particular. That was never more evident than on a play late in the fourth quarter when Wall blew by Tatum for an easy layup with a simple hesitation, stop-and-go move.

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Wizards-Celtics is still fun: This game reaffirmed several things. The Wizards, despite their inconsistency this season, remain a talented group capable of keeping up with the best teams in the NBA. We also learned that there is still plenty of fun left in the Wizards vs. Celtics matchup.

There was a point in the third quarter where Wall and Kyrie Irving were trading buckets. That included Irving splitting two defenders and going up and around Mike Scott at the rim with a reverse finger roll off the glass. Irving had a nice game with 20 points and five assists, but Wall's versatility helped him and the Wizards win out. He scored, but also set others up for easy looks.

Oubre came to play: The last time the Wizards played at TD Garden, Kelly Oubre, Jr. was given just six seconds of playing time as head coach Scott Brooks tightened his rotation in a decisive Game 7. Oubre used that as motivation throughout the summer and so far this season has looked like the team's most improved player. On Monday, he served a clear reminder of that.

Oubre provided a spark for the Wizards quickly with nine points in the first half. He had a steal that led to a dunk for Beal on the other end. He had a pair of dunks and even scored on a Eurostep, fadeaway combination that we had not seen from him before. Oubre finished with 16 points and five rebounds (three offensive). He shot 7-for-13 from the field.

Oubre's athleticism can be a big factor in the matchup between the Wizards and Celtics. Boston has two crazy athletic young wings in Brown and Tatum and many teams don't have an answer for that. In Oubre, the Wizards have at least one guy who can match them in size, speed and length.

Bench didn't hold up: Despite Oubre's contributions, the Wizards' bench didn't do a great job turning the page from their disaster of a showing in Game 7. Aside from Oubre, they managed just four points. It is a very different group, but the Celtics' depth continued to give the Wizards' second unit problems in this one. Their second unit outscored that of the Wizards 43-18.

Up next: The Wizards are off Tuesday before moving on to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' tough loss to Bucks including John Wall's circus shot

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USA Today Sports Images

5 must-see moments from Wizards' tough loss to Bucks including John Wall's circus shot

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 104-95 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday afternoon...

1. John Wall came out swinging in the first half with 22 points, 16 of them in the first quarter alone. 

This was one of his best plays. Wall split two defenders and then flipped it in off the glass:

Wall finished with 27 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks. 

2. Kelly Oubre, Jr. led the Wizards' bench with 19 points, five rebounds and a block. He missed on this play, but nearly dunked on Giannis Antetokounmpo. That would have been something:

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3. Oubre did get this one to go down. He popped a three at the buzzer to end the third quarter:

4. Wall had some nice passes including this alley-oop lob to Tomas Satoransky. Sato got way up there:

Satoransky also threw down this alley-oop pass earlier thrown by Bradley Beal:

5. This last play was by the Bucks and it was not something you see every day. Antetokounmpo fired an assist through his legs like a longsnapper:

The Wizards lost a close one. Now they head to Charlotte to begin a five-game road trip.

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On MLK Day, John Wall wonders what King would think about race relations under President Trump

On MLK Day, John Wall wonders what King would think about race relations under President Trump

John Wall spoke at length over the summer about race relations in the United States following the violence in Charlottesville in August orchestrated by white supremacists.

Following the Wizards' game against the Bucks on Martin Luther King, Jr. day on Monday, Wall was asked about the subject again.

Wall does not believe improvements have made in the last few months with President Donald Trump in office and he wonders how King would react if he were alive to see the current state of America.

"I think he still wouldn't be satisfied. We're still dealing with it. I think it got better for a little period of time, but with the new president we have I think things are going backwards. We've been dealing with it the last couple of years. There are some things we still need to figure out," Wall said.

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The Wizards play on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year and Wizards players cherish the tradition. It is not lost on Wall that he plays in Washington, D.C. where King made his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech and led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

“That’s just an honor and a blessing," Wall said.

"We are all still sticking to what he had with this dream, and we are just trying to get everything to be right with it. To be able to play in this city is an honor."

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Wall says he tries to embody King's dream in his own life. King helped lead the civil rights movement that paved the way for equal rights and Wall, an African-American, has much to thank for those who fought. Every American does.

Wall says he wants to make King proud.

“I just hope that he appreciates what I’m doing. I’m doing myself very well. I hope he’s thankful for what I’m doing. I’m striving to be a better African-American athlete, and just as a person first of all – I think that’s the most important thing," he said.

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