WASHINGTON (AP) - To Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, Kyrie Irving’s pair of 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds of overtime - the first from in front of his team’s bench; the second from straightaway, 31 feet out - were “amazing.”
To the man contesting both of those key shots, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, they were “incredible.”
To Irving himself? He was a lot more matter-of-fact, saying: “I was just trying to win the game.”
Did just that, too. Serenaded on the road by chants of “MVP!” in the closing seconds, Irving scored Boston’s last 12 points to finish with 38, and the undermanned Celtics extended their winning streak to seven games with a 130-125 victory over the Wizards on Wednesday night.
“We’ve seen Kyrie do that on multiple occasions,” said Marcus Smart, a guard who spent some time at center and had 18 points and five rebounds. “But to see it again in person - every day we see that is something that is jaw-dropping for us.”
Marcus Morris added 27 points and nine rebounds for Boston, which played without Al Horford, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown, its No. 4-6 leading scorers.
“The hallmark of this group has been whoever’s available plays and is counted on to do what they’re supposed to,” Stevens said. “Not everybody had their best night, but everybody did their jobs and kept adding value when they checked in. They played whatever role they were asked to and gave us a chance to win.”
Wall returned after missing a game with an aching left heel to pour in 34 points with 13 assists, and stayed on the court in overtime after getting his right foot stepped on during a drive to the basket. But his seven points in OT weren’t enough to keep pace with fellow All-Star Irving.
The Wizards led 123-122 when Irving made a 3 with 38.6 seconds to go. After Wall tied it at 125, Irving hit another shot from beyond the arc that gave Boston the lead for good, because Beal (22 points; zero in OT) and Wall then each missed a 3.
This sure was a close one: There were nine ties and 18 lead changes. Neither club was ahead by more than three points over the final 10 minutes of regulation. Up 113-110, Boston opted to foul Beal on purpose with 13 seconds left, but that backfired, because after he made the first free throw, he missed the second - but grabbed the rebound and put it in for the tie.
Irving blew by Beal at the other end but missed a layup right before the buzzer, sending the game to an extra period.
And then Irving really took over.
Celtics: Horford sat for the third consecutive game - he’s expected to miss at least a few more because of an injured left knee - and Brown and Hayward were out because of illness. … Outscored Washington 38-22 in the third quarter. … Daniel Theis fouled out after just 14 minutes. He had eight points and six rebounds. … Semi Ojeleye was 1 for 7 on 3-point attempts.
Wizards: Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 20 of their 32 bench points. … Rebounding has been a problem all season and this was no different. Washington was beaten 50-41 on the boards and outscored 24-8 in second-chance points.
WALL ON THE CALLS
Wall was not thrilled with the officiating, saying the Wizards kept getting whistled for “ticky-tack” fouls, but did not get the same sort of calls when they had the ball. “We get so many hand-check calls to put those guys on the free throw line. Let guys make plays,” he said. “I mean, then we drive to the basket, getting fouled, and we’re not getting it.” Washington actually took more foul shots, 29 to 25; the Wizards only made 21, while the Celtics were perfect at the line. “We play just as aggressive as anybody else,” Wall said. “So I don’t understand it. I don’t respect it.”
SMART AT 5
Smart said he hadn’t played the “5” position since high school. “That’s just what we needed tonight,” he said.
Celtics: Host Atlanta on Friday.
Wizards: At Brooklyn on Friday.
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