By the end of a wildly entertaining game, the enemy had captured a good portion of the hearts inside Capital One Arena.
As Boston point guard Kyrie Irving stepped to the free throw line to close out the 130-125 overtime win against the Washington Wizards, he was serenaded with “Let’s Go Celtics!” then “M-V-P!” The chants, amplified by the Boston faithful inside the sold-out arena, overwhelmed those by the home fans and their appreciation for the Wizards.
Ultimately — despite John Wall hobbling his way down the lane and still scoring at the rim, Markieff Morris outmuscling everyone in green for a key offensive rebound and Bradley Beal’s game-saving play at the end of regulation — the Wizards (11-17) still dropped their third straight game. This one stung particularly because the Wizards believed they were victimized by a deluge of touch fouls while trying to defend the one-time rival Celtics (17-10).
“We were frustrated. I thought we played hard, hard enough to win, but sometimes those things happen,” Coach Scott Brooks said. “You got to play through everything and we did our best and we came up a bucket or two short.”
Wall finished with 34 points on 14-of-26 shooting to go with a game-high 13 assists. But with 2:02 remaining in overtime, he crashed to the court after landing awkwardly near Irving. Wall returned, but he was a bit slower in his step. Though Wall described feeling his right foot stepped on, he did not hear a whistle for his pain. After the game, he remembered the slight and went on a long denunciation against what he perceived to be uneven officiating.
In the fourth quarter and overtime, Boston went 13 for 13 at the line while Washington attempted eight free throws.
“I kind of think that the end of the fourth quarter, you get so many hand-check calls and put those guys on the free throw line. Let guys make plays,” Wall said. “I mean, we drive to the basket and get fouled and we not getting it but a guy gets a little bump and you want to call those type calls. It’s not the same. Let us players make those plays at the end of the game.
“Like Kyrie made two tough shots, that’s how you’re supposed to let the game end,” Wall continued. “Don’t let games end by keep calling tick-tack fouls and making -- just don’t make no sense.”
Although scored Beal scored 22 points, Irving outshined everyone by dropping 38 in 40 minutes, including a pair of three-pointers in the closing 37.9 seconds. After Morris followed a miss with an offensive rebound and score to give the Wizards a 123-122 lead, Irving drilled his first three. Then moments later, Irving hit another, from a few feet beyond the top of the key with Wall in front of him, that proved to the be the difference as the Celtics won their seventh straight.
For most of the game, the Wizards seemed to be in control. They led at halftime, 55-46, with Beal an efficient 5 of 7 from the field for 14 points at intermission. Wall had half of the team’s 12 assists after two quarters.
The lead crumbled in the third quarter as the Wizards carelessly protected possessions as well as the three-point arc. These problems intersected on one sequence when Boston’s Marcus Morris knocked down a three-pointer and was still celebrating his shot when Terry Rozier stole the ball from Beal. Moments later, Rozier hit a transition three as part of the 27-9 Celtics run.
In the third quarter, Beal and Wall accounted for five of the team’s seven turnovers and the Celtics outscored Washington 38-22.
The Wizards settled down in the fourth quarter and regained the lead. In the most unlikely showdown, Wall and rookie big man Robert Williams went back and forth for several possessions in the middle of the quarter. Wall showed his skills — throwing an alley oop to center Thomas Bryant and running the open floor for the layup to give the Wizards a 95-92 lead. Then, Williams flashed his potential with an offensive rebound and put back, followed by a dunk to keep the Celtics close.
Wall scored 12 points in the quarter but with 11.3 seconds remaining, Beal made the play of regulation by securing an offensive rebound from his missed free throw and finishing a layup to knot the game at 113. When Irving could not connect on a tough layup at the buzzer, the Wizards survived to enter their third overtime of the season.
Both teams played with limited depth. The Celtics did not have Gordon Hayward and Al Horford because of injuries, while Washington’s Otto Porter Jr. missed his third game of the season. Porter, who left the Wizards’ previous game against the Indiana Pacers with a right knee contusion, was considered a game-time decision Wednesday but did not play.
Jeff Green filled in at the starting small forward position and scored 22 points (7 of 11 from the floor) to go with 10 rebounds. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 20 of the bench’s 32 points.