Washington-Boston is tied 2-2 after the Wizards won Game 4, thanks in part to a big third quarter.
USA TODAY Sports
WASHINGTON — Let the best-of-three series begin.
The Washington Wizards downed the Boston Celtics 121-102 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in Washington on Sunday night, tying the series at two games apiece with Game 5 in Boston on Wednesday.
“I feel like we feel like we’re in control (of the series),” Wizards point guard John Wall said after the win. “We had the momentum coming home to win our two games. We feel like we can win (in Boston). We know we can. We’ve just got to do a better job of taking care of those leads we get and just playing smart basketball down the stretch.”
The Wizards did just that.
Wall, who has recorded at least 20 points and seven assists in an NBA-record 10 straight playoff games, had an uncharacteristically slow start for Washington, missing his first nine shots. His first make of the game, a three-pointer, wasn’t until the 5:50 mark in the second quarter, cutting Boston’s lead to 40-35. He made five of his next eight attempts to help tie the game at 48 at halftime.
Then came the third quarter.
Washington upped their defensive intensity to start the half, which set in motion a sequence of forced turnovers and fastbreak buckets that fueled a 26-0 Wizards’ run in a 6:28 span. In the blink of an eye, Washington led 74-53 with five minutes left in the period.
“That’s probably our best stretch of basketball,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Defensively we were in the right position. We made some adjustments at the half. We didn’t make silly mistakes that we made early in the game and it pays off. Make them take tough shots over a hand and rebound and get out and use our speed. John is one of the fastest point guards in the league. We’ve got some good shooters on the wings and we have to take advantage of that, but it doesn’t work if we don’t lock in on the defensive end.”
It was all smooth sailing from there. The Wizards finished the quarter — which they outscored Boston 42-20 — with a more-than-comfortable 90-68 lead that they would never come close to relinquishing. The Wizards shot 13-for-20 (65%) in the quarter and made all 12 of their free throw attempts. They also forced nine turnovers, which led to 21 points. Wall led all scorers with 13 points, and Beal and Morris had 11 and 10, respectively.
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Wall finished the game with 27 points, 12 assists and five steals. His backcourt running mate, shooting guard Bradley Beal, had his best game of the series, scoring 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Wizards’ Otto Porter Jr. (18 points, eight rebounds), Markieff Morris (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Bojan Bogdanovic (13 points) all made their presence felt, too, giving Washington those much-needed third, fourth and fifth scoring options.
Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas started off the game hot, hitting five three-pointers in the first 14 minutes, but made just two shots from there on out to finish with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Al Horford (11 points) was the only other Celtics’ starter to score in double figures.
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