WASHINGTON â€” Eight technical fouls, three ejections and a whole lot of bad blood later, the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics have themselves a series.
Tensions boiled over in a contentious, technical foul-filled Game 3 Thursday night as the Wizards rode another hot start to a 116-89 victory that cut their series deficit to 2-1. Washington built a big lead for the third consecutive game, holding and extending it this time as the score and the physical play got out of hand.
Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. was tossed for charging and knocking over Kelly Olynyk after a hard offensive foul, each coach got a technical foul and the hatred that built up during the regular season captured the spotlight more than John Wall continuing to torment the Celtics or the Wizards finding a solution for Isaiah Thomas.
“I guess that’s playoff basketball,” said Thomas, who was held to 13 points after scoring 53 in Game 2. “We don’t like them and they don’t like us.”
Wall led the Wizards with 24 points as he, Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic keyed a 22-0 first-quarter run that made it 34-12. Unlike in Games 1 and 2, when Washington let 16-0 and 16-8 leads slip away, the defence was there on Thomas and the rest of his teammates to limit the Celtics to 35.1 per cent shooting.
Boston coach Brad Stevens took a page from Rasheed Wallace’s “Both teams played hard” playbook, repeating that the Wizards “played well” over and over. That was also his response to the physical nature of the game that included technicals for him and Wizards coach Scott Brooks, and the fourth-quarter ejections of reserves Terry Rozier and Brandon Jennings.
Oubre created the most fireworks with his outburst, leaping up from the ground to bowl over Olynyk in the second quarter, leading to a flagrant 2 foul and ejection. Though Wall hopes it’s a learning experience for a young player, Oubre could be facing a suspension for his actions with a crucial Game 4 looming Sunday.
“We can’t respond that way,” Brooks said. “When you keep getting hit in the head, you might respond that way and I think that’s what he did. I’m not saying that that was the right thing to do. We have to focus on playing basketball.”
The Wizards were by far the better basketball team on Thursday night, shooting 46.7 per cent thanks to 19 points each from Porter and Bogdanovic. They locked down defensively on Thomas, who never got into a rhythm and was on the wrong end of some post-ups against bigger opponents.
Hard fouls were part of the first two games of the series, but nothing like Game 3, as Celtics centre Al Horford described the Wizards play as “the way that they junk the game up a little bit.” Players and coaches on each side criticized officials for not having control of the game and letting it get out of hand, and the result was more than a few post-whistle extracurriculars.
“I guess just two teams that really don’t like each other,” Wall said. “We’re two teams that’s trying to compete and trying to win this series.”
Celtics: Horford led the team with 16 points. … G Avery Bradley scored seven points after reporting soreness Wednesday from a hip pointer in Game 2. … Jae Crowder has scored 10-plus points in a playoff career-high four consecutive games. He finished with 14. … Gerald Green started in place of Amir Johnson after not playing in Game 2 and had eight points.
Wizards: Bogdanovic made four of the seven 3-pointers he attempted. … C Marcin Gortat had 13 points and 16 rebounds, saying he has to dominate in the paint if the Celtics go small. … Outscored Boston 56-28 in the paint.
A symbol of the rough-and-tumble play, Thomas needed to have his dental work adjusted at halftime but missed only the first 1:40 of the third quarter.
“They came out, so I had to get ’em back in,” the 5-foot-9 All-Star said of his temporary teeth.
Thomas isn’t worried about his mouth or his play as the series goes on, saying he struggled to adjust to Washington’s triple-teams early and couldn’t get into a rhythm in shooting 3 of 8 from the floor. He said next game he needs to be more aggressive and assertive.
Centre Ian Mahinmi made his playoff debut for the Wizards after missing the past nine games with a left calf strain. Mahinmi played nine minutes and made his only shot.
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press