1/11 Game Preview: Wizards at Celtics
BOSTON -- It was just last week that Isaiah Thomas made it clear he should have been selected as the Eastern Conference player of the month for December.
Washington's John Wall, whose numbers - even a 52-point game - matched Boston's Little Big Man, was given the honor.
On Wednesday night, the talented guards go head-to-head as both the Wizards and Celtics play the latter half of a back-to-back at TD Garden.
Tuesday night, Wall recorded the last two of his 26 points with 5.9 seconds left as the Wizards rallied from 18 points down against a short-handed Bulls team. Washington won its 10th straight home game and rose above the .500 mark (19-18) for the first time since it was 6-5 on Nov. 24, 2015.
"Just to be playing the way were playing and the December we had was big for us," Wall said. "The way we started was terrible. If we didn't have a good enough December, we probably wouldn't be in this position to be a .500 team or better.
Up north, Thomas scored 27 points - his 22nd straight 20-point game - but the Celtics gave up 68 points in the second half, blew a 16-point third quarter lead and lost to the Toronto Raptors.
For the second straight night, the Celtics will have to deal with a talented opposing backcourt, but it looks like they'll be able to do it with Avery Bradley back in the lineup after he missed two games with a slight Achilles strain.
Nov. 9 at Washington, the Wizards spurted to a 26-point first quarter lead and Otto Porter's career night of 34 points and 14 rebounds led the Wizards to an easy win. The Celtics played without the injured Al Horford and Jae Crowder that night.
Boston's four-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday night, as it missed a chance to inch past the Raptors into second place (via tiebreaker) in the East. The Celtics also saw their impressive streak of four games in a row with at least 17 3-pointers come to a halt by going just 9-for-27 from behind the arc - falling to 23-15.
"We didn't make plays. We didn't make shots at the offensive end," Thomas said. "On top of that we didn't get stops."
In Washington, Wall also had 14 assists and six rebounds, while fellow guard Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris scored 19 points apiece.
"He is a winner," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Wall. "That is the bottom line. We have a team full of winners and that really helps. We are not always perfect, but I like the guys' mentality."
"I thought he made the right play on shooting that (winner). If they were going to jump out at him, the pass was the right play. It's not who makes the last shot, it's who makes the right play."
DeMar DeRozan scored 41 points and led the Toronto charge that caught and passed the Celtics.
"I probably saw more encouraging signs of progress than negative," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
As far as coming home to play so quickly, Boston's Al Horford said, "It's hard, but this is how the NBA work. ... We need to get back home, rest up and get ready."
Said Thomas: "This week is big for us. We've got to go one game at a time and take care of home. We've got Washington (Wednesday) and then we'll go into Atlanta (Friday, Horford's first time back) and try to get one. "
The Celtics are 5-3, winning five of their last six back ends of back-to-backs, while the Wizards are just 1-6.
Wall scored 19 points and was ejected from the first meeting between the teams when he was hit for a flagrant-2 for a hit on Marcus Smart.