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Takeaways from Wizards' win over Celtics, 14th straight home victory

Takeaways from Wizards' win over Celtics, 14th straight home victory

A “hostile act” between Markieff Morris and Jae Crowder had to be reviewed midway through the third quarter, but that was the extent of the physical play between the Wizards and Boston Celtics in a game defined by the wearing of black for a midseason game.

The Wizards (25-20) never trailed as they took a 2-1 season series lead to inch closer to the Celtics (26-18) in the East and won their 14th consecutive game at Verizon Center, 123-108 Tuesday night, in front of 16,387.

That’s six wins in the last seven games since a 117-108 defeat to the Celtics at TD Garden on Jan. 11 when tempers flared postgame between John Wall and Jae Crowder and both were assessed fines by the league. The 123 points are a season-high.

Wall (27 points, seven assists, seven rebounds) didn’t have an issue with his right pinkie or left wrist as he did in that game. He sparked five players in double figures, along with Bradley Beal (game-high 31 points, five assists), Morris (19 points, 11 rebounds), Marcin Gortat (16 points, eight rebounds) and Kelly Oubre (11 points).

Isaiah Thomas, who is contending for an All-Star reserve spot with Wall, led Boston (25 points, 13 assists), followed by Al Horford (22 points), Crowder (17 points) and Marcus Smart (13 points).

Oubre had a three-pointer and Wall made consecutive jump shots to end the first quarter with a 33-24 lead. The second unit was shaky to start the fourth quarter with turnovers but coach Scott Brooks called a timeout with 10:43 left to right the ship.

Oubre’s three-pointer with 8:01 left put them up 101-89. Then Beal closed with three baskets. Two came off the dribble as he burned Smart and then Crowder for mid-range pull-ups. The last came off a drive for a 114-100 lead to put it away.

--Brooks went with Oubre defending Thomas in the fourth, and it paid dividends after the Wizards failed to give him a different look when he scored 20 points in the fourth quarter of a comeback Jan. 11. Oubre’s 7-2 wingspan coupled with his superior athleticism against the 5-9 point guard was a difference-maker. Thomas was held to four points in the final 12 minutes. He was 6 of 12 entering the fourth but finished just 7-for-19 shooting.

-- The Wizards immediately went inside to Gortat. On their first three possessions, Gortat got the ball on post-ups and made both shots. He turned it over on the third but taking advantage of Horford, who is undersized in the middle. When the Wizards went to Morris and Jason Smith to open the second quarter, they took advantage of Kelly Olynyk defensively. Horford only had four rebounds and the Wizards had a 42-32 edge.

--Morris picked up his second foul at 9:11 of the second quarter but Brooks stuck with him. He continued to get open looks, including on a pop to the short corner for a three-pointer behind a decoy floppy action for Beal. But where Morris has lapses defensively, contesting shots at the perimeter and taking charges, wasn’t an issue. He took a charge late in the third to negate a possession as ran out to contest a three-point shot from Thomas that hit the side of the backboard. Morris grabbed it and it led to a transition basket for Wall.

--In the last meeting, Brooks complained about game officials swallowing their whistles. A total of 38 fouls were called but this game wasn’t over-officiated. There were 15 more total fouls called with the Wizards taking 21 free throws. Boston took 24.

-- Morris was hit with a technical after getting tangled with Crowder with 7:55 left in the third. It was his sixth of the season which will cost him $3,000 but nothing more came of the confrontation that was minor. Smart, however, clashed with the Celtics' coaching staff late in the game when he was being pulled.

[RELATED: VIDEOS: Wizards arrive in all black for Celtics game]

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John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

As people around the country continue to protest police brutality and racial injustices against black people, athletes continue to add their powerful voices and experiences to the cause.

Wizards guard John Wall joined in the conversation, discussing the fear he continues to have about being pulled over by the police. For many black Americans, the reality of racial discrimination makes the mere thought of being pulled over more daunting than it should be. Apparently that anxiety doesn’t dissipate just because you’re a star athlete.

“If I get pulled over right now, I’m terrified,” Wall said on Thursday’s episode of The Athletic’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast. “To be realistic. If I’m in a dark area, or a back street, I’m not stopping. I’ll go to a high-speed chase to get to a spot where it’s a grocery store, or somewhere where there’s a lot of lights at, because that’s how terrifying it is.”

To some, it may be jarring to hear a recognizable, millionaire athlete discuss his fear of the police, but the money and acclaim don't provide a shield from racism. And for many black people, the fear is instilled at a young age, either through personal experiences or those of people with the same skin color. In the age of camera phones, more and more incidents are being recorded for the world to see.

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George Floyd was suffocated and killed by a white police officer in Minnesota who put a knee to his neck for over eight minutes. Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times and killed in her own home by police in Louisville. Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death by a white father and son while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood.

“You’re telling me if I want to be a black kid to jog in a neighborhood, and I say, ‘Ok, I want to cut through this white neighborhood, this rich neighborhood,’ and then all of a sudden, I’m targeted to get killed?” Wall continued. “Because I don’t belong there? Those are the kind of things I grew up with, like you wouldn’t go to this side of town where you wasn’t allowed. Why? We breathe the same air.”

Wall, who grew up in Raleigh, N.C., said the constant acts of racial discrimination have been frustrating and that all people want to see is justice. 

“I feel like this has been going on for decades, been going on for so much longer than the time I’ve been on this earth,” he said. “But if we didn’t have social media or camera phones right now, we wouldn’t be able to see this act going on.”

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

The NBA now has a concrete plan to return to action, but there are still obstacles that will need solving when play resumes. One of the most important will be the health and safety of players amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, the league will need to know how to handle the possibility of a positive COVID-19 virus diagnosis. With a large number of individuals destined to be in close proximity in Orlando, could one player testing positive derail the entire plan? Would that team then have to be eliminated due to the potential risk they carry?

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, that will not be the case.

“The answer is we don’t believe we would need to," Silver told Charles Barkley on TNT's Inside the NBA, referring to the idea of having to eliminate a team due to a positive coronavirus result.

Silver's confidence stems from the vast amount of research and preparation the league has done to get to this stage in the return process. Not only have NBA officials detailed plans of action, but SIlver and others are working closely with health experts in Florida to make sure things go smoothly.

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Based on what they've heard so far, one positive test won't be the end-all for the NBA. If a player were to be diagnosed with COVID-19, the league knows the exact procedure to keep others safe.

“The view is that if we are testing every day and we are able to trace, in essence, the contacts the player has had," Silver said. "We are able to, in essence, contain that player and separate that from his team.”

The commissioner explained that the NBA is continuing to test on a daily basis, and that won't change anytime soon. The threat of coronavirus impacting the league's return is strong, but Silver and the NBA are confident that they'll be able to overcome any issues and have the season play out in a safe manner.

"The belief is we would not have to shut down if a single player tested positive," Silver said. 

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