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Wizards can't keep up with Celtics late, fall 107-96
Gaining momentum is critical for the Wizards as they head down the final stretch of the season looking for a playoff bid, and the struggling Celtics looked like another good opportunity with which to build some on Friday night. Unfortunately, Boston was due. Washington battled the Celtics – who had lost four straight entering play – all the way, but couldn’t keep up in the final minutes, falling 107-96.
Bradley Beal again put together a strong performance with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but a balanced Boston attack with seven reaching double figures was too much to handle, particularly late in the game. Al Horford led the way for the Celtics with 18 points, while Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart scored 17 and 16, respectively.
Boston used a decisive 21-7 run in the final frame to put the Wizards away after leading by just a point through three quarters. Washington had crawled back from being down by as many as 15 points in the early going, but costly turnovers late proved to be its undoing.
“I definitely put it on my shoulders tonight," said Bradley Beal. "I checked back in, I turned the ball over twice. That just shifted the whole momentum of the game from the rest of the point on. Just got to take care of the ball.”
There was a figurative lid on the rim for the Wizards early, and they trailed 25-10 in the first as Boston started hot with Horford and Daniel Theis (11 points) leading the way. Beal scored 10 of the Wizards’ 20 points in the first, and the Celtics led by 10 after one. Washington couldn't get its offense in gear in the first, recording just one assist and shooting just over 30% from the field on just seven made field goals.
A 16-4 Wizards run was the key to their way back into the game in the second quarter, helping to grab a brief lead just before the halftime break. Washington’s advantage all night was on the fast break (26-16) and it used a pick up in pace to close the first half down just four. In addition to Beal’s 16 points at the half, five other Wizards added five or more points as they chipped away at a struggling Boston offense that mustered just 19 points in the second quarter.
Washington came alive after halftime, closing the third quarter down just a point. The Wizards poured in 36 points in the frame – 11 coming from Beal – with four others scoring five or more. Jeff Green scored seven of his 15 points in the third, helping Washington shoot 62.5% in the quarter and 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Tomas Satoransky (15 points), Jabari Parker (12 points), and rookie Troy Brown Jr. (seven points) gave productive minutes in support in the second half. Parker (+4) and Brown Jr. (+8) recorded the Wizards’ two best +/- ratios on the night.
Turnovers plagued the Wizards down the stretch as the Celtics made their run in the middle of the fourth. A 12-2 Boston burst keyed by Jaylen Brown (11 of his 13 points came in the fourth) gave the Celtics a 97-88 lead with 6:50 to play. Washington committed four straight turnovers during the run, turning the tide for good to close the game.
"I thought turnovers were the difference," said head coach Scott Brooks. "I thought we actually played a really solid defensive game against a team that’s loaded with a lot of talent and All-Star players. The turnovers, we gave them so many easy opportunities. We had a chance to maybe extend it after a tough start. The turnovers and we missed a lot of wide-open threes. It’s a make or miss league at times and we have to take care of the ball, but I thought our guys fought and played hard in a tough environment."
The Wizards return home for a pair of home games next week, starting Sunday evening against Minnesota. Tip-off against the Timberwolves at Capital One Arena is set for 6:00 P.M. ET.