WASHINGTON (AP) – 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 defense was there on Thomas and the rest of his teammates to limit the Celtics to 35.1 percent 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 percent 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 center 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.”
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