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Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Boston Celtics in Game 4

Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Boston Celtics in Game 4

In Game 3, it was a 22-0 run that sealed the Boston Celtics’ fate in the first quarter. Sunday, it was 26-0 run in the third quarter of Game 4 as the Wizards drew even in the East semifinals the moment John Wall came alive.

Wall (27 points, 12 assists, five steals) missed his first nine shots before he caught fire to score 12 of their final 18 points before halftime to erase a 12-point deficit and inspire another surge in a 121-102 victory in Game 4. The series is tied 2-2 with the pivotal Game 5 at TD Garden on Wednesday.

Otto Porter (18 points, eight rebounds, four steals) was the early offense for Washington as he scored 10 of his points in the first quarter. Bradley Beal (29 points) started slow but began to find his shot and Markieff Morris (16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals) continued to be a matchup nightmare for Boston.

The Wizards’ defense suffocated Isaiah Thomas (19 points, six turnovers) after a hot start in which he made all three of this three-pointers in the first quarter. But they kept him away from the rim and forced others to make shots and for the second game in a row the Celtics failed.

Jae Crowder (six points) shot just 2-for-9, Avery Bradley (five points) was 2-for-9 and Marcus Smart (nine points) shot 2-for-7.

The score was tied 48-48 at halftime and Amir Johnson (seven points) had a personal 5-0 burst to put the Celtics on top. Then for the next 6:30, the Celtics went without a point as the Wizards blew the game open by forcing nine turnovers – five by Thomas -- and just 5-for-16 shooting.

Three of the Wizards starters, Wall, Beal and Morris, scored in double figures in the third quarter alone, accounting for 34 of their 42 points.

The Wizards are 5-0 at home in the playoffs.

[RELATED: Ted, Zach Leonsis wear Oubre jerseys to Game 4]

--After an offensive foul on Kelly Olynyk (14 points), chants of “Kelly Oubre” took over the arena. It was Oubre’s confrontation in Game 3 that led to his ejection and receiving a one-game suspension. Oubre will be back for Game 5.

--Thomas was used as a screener to get Crowder and Johnson uncontested layups. That’s how they got out to an early lead as the Wizards were so concerned with jumping the return pass to the guard that they forgot about the big slipping to the rim. But the ball pressure eventually caused Thomas to break. Marcin Gortat (six points, seven rebounds) was key in staying big in the middle and making the 5-foot-9 point guard finish over size. And the officials didn’t reward Thomas with whistles for jumping into bigs to get whistles. Thomas didn’t attempt a foul shot.

--The Wizards’ biggest edge statistically has been with rebounding. They were 38-38 in a Game 1 loss, had just a 44-41 edge in a Game 2 loss but were 50-38 in a Game 3 win. They were 45-31 in their second win in a row Sunday.

--Johnson was back in the starting lineup for Boston while Gerald Green, who started Game 3, didn’t play until the score was lopsided and coach Brad Stevens was desperate for answers. Johnson was a liability whether it was on the offensive end or trying to be the help big switching onto Wall on the pick-and-roll. It’s the biggest trouble spot for Boston, because of they go to three guards with Green or Smart they’re too small vs. Morris and he’s good enough defensively to stay in front of them away from the rim. If they go with Johnson, Morris can take him from the rim, face him up and beat him to his spots or get his in the post. Against Smart, he’ll post and get easy looks.

--Morris is unaccounted for when he pops to the arc for three-point looks. The Celtics kept giving him the looks and if he’s able to knock them down, they’re going to have trouble winning. Morris was just 2-for-4 but that’s good enough. Because they’re undersized in the middle, Boston commits bodies to contend with Gortat in the middle. They picked their poison, just as the Wizards have done with taking away Thomas and forcing other shooters to beat them.

--Thomas picked up a technical foul at 6:38 of the fourth quarter after being called for a foul on Beal. It was the only one of the game after the teams combined for eight in Game 3.

--Tomas Satoransky (five points) got the call with Oubre out to defend Thomas and did a credible job denying him the ball. He also made his only shot. Bojan Bogdanovic (13 points) had his second strong performance in a rowas he led the reserves. Ian Mahinmi (three assists) didn’t score but found cutters under the basket for layups. He played 13 minutes, three more than he did in Game 3 as he works his way back from a left calf strain.

[RELATED: Wall pulls off ridiculous spin move in Game 4]

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Five observations from Wizards' 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, including Dwight Howard's injury

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USA TODAY SPORTS

Five observations from Wizards' 119-109 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, including Dwight Howard's injury

The Washington Wizards lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 119-109 on Sunday night. Here are five observations from the game...

Not good: It just keeps getting worse. The Wizards have been playing a sleepy, uninspired brand of basketball in recent games and on Sunday they met a Blazers team that does just the opposite.

The result was probably predictable. Though the Wizards edged the Blazers last month in Portland, this time they lost a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggested. 

Portland led by as many as 29 points and the Wizards only cut that down late when head coach Scott Brooks emptied his bench. He brought in a host of young guys who were hungry and just happy to be playing like Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant. Hopefully the starters, who have been missing those qualities, were paying attention.

These teams are currently on two entirely different trajectories. The Blazers are trending up, while the Wizards, who have lost two straight, are sliding quickly.

Washington is now 5-11 on the season. That's worse than their mark at this point two years ago when they mounted the famous comeback.

Howard hurt again: Things were already going terribly for the Wizards when they got much worse. Dwight Howard, who was coming off a huge game against the Nets, left in the second quarter after aggravating his strained piriformis muscle injury. 

Howard, of course, missed the first seven games of the year with the injury, which has also been referred to as gluteal soreness. We knew he was still dealing with discomfort when he came back and it has never really gone away.

The injury affects his ability to run and jump. He can't even sit on the bench because of the pain. The fact it's bothering him enough to leave a game is a really bad sign.

Too many fouls: Just like last game, Howard found himself entangled in foul trouble and this time he got started earlier. By the midway point of the first quarter, he had two. By the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, he had three.

At least against the Nets on Friday, Howard was effective when he was on the floor. This time, he couldn't find a rhythm. His time on the court was basically a wash.

These two games show just how easy it is for Howard to rack up fouls and how much it hurts the Wizards when he gets in foul trouble. 

Horrid start: The Wizards have had some lifeless stretches this season, far too often for the talent they have on the roster. The way they began this game was them at their absolute worst.

They just couldn't keep up with the Blazers, who were zipping the ball around the court to find open shooters. Portland built a 20-point lead in the first quarter, 32-12, as they shot 7-for-9 from three. The seventh was a wide open look by C.J. McCollum.

That's C.J. McCollum, as in one of the best shooting guards in basketball. Somehow the Wizards completely lost him and paid for it. Those are the types of plays that are hard to excuse.

Bright spots: If there were any positives to draw from this game, it was the play of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky. Neither shot the ball well, but their energy and effort were noticeable on a night when most of their teammates just didn't have it.

They were among the few Wizards players active on defense and closing out on the three-point line. They helped key a 13-0 run to end the first quarter and helped the team show some life in the second half when the game was already out of hand.

Oubre finished with 19 points, four assists, four rebounds, and three blocks. He was +14. Satoransky had 10 points, seven assists and was +22. If Brooks wants some more energy from his team, those two could provide it.

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Dwight Howard leaves Wizards-Blazers game after aggravating piriformis injury

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USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard leaves Wizards-Blazers game after aggravating piriformis injury

While down big against the Blazers on Sunday night, matters got even worse for the Washington Wizards as starting center Dwight Howard exited the game after aggravating his piriformis muscle injury.

Howard initially left the game midway through the second quarter due to foul trouble. Soon after, he went to the locker room with a trainer to get treatment. Howard was clearly frustrated as he walked through the tunnel.

Howard, 32, missed the first seven games of the season due to the injury, a strained piriformis muscle. He was sidelined for all of training camp and the preseason.

The piriformis muscle is located just below the back. Howard has battled discomfort while running, jumping and even sitting while dealing with the injury.

Even when he returned, he told reporters the pain had not completely subsided.

Howard left Sunday's game with two points and three rebounds in seven minutes.

More on this story as it develops...

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