Thomas scores 53 to power Celtics over Wizards
Washington (AFP) – Isaiah Thomas scored a career playoff high 53 points, nine of them in a game-closing 15-2 over-time run that powered the Boston Celtics over Washington 129-119 in a second-round NBA playoff game.
Thomas scored a combined 29 points in the fourth quarter and over-time to rally the host Celtics past the stubborn Wizards and give Boston a 2-0 lead as the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series shifts to Washington for game three on Thursday.
The last Western Conference second-round series began later with Utah at NBA season wins leader Golden State.
Thomas, who attended his sister’s funeral Saturday and had a tooth knocked out in a game-one victory Sunday, connected on 18-of-33 shots from the floor and 12-of-13 from the free throw line.
Celtics center Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds while Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley each added 14 points for Boston.
John Wall led seven double-figure scorers for the Wizards with 40 points and 13 assists, but 19 of those points and six assists came in the first quarter.
A 14-0 Wizards run put Washington ahead 81-67 early in the third quarter, but the Celtics battled back from there.
Boston answered with a 14-4 run early in the fourth quarter, Thomas scoring nine points in the spurt and Bradley sinking a 3-pointer with 7:09 to play to give Boston its largest lead to that point at 102-99.
The Celtics missed five shots in a row and Washington responded with a 9-0 run for a 110-104 lead, but Thomas and Rozier answered with 3-pointers to pull Boston level again with 98 seconds remaining.
Otto Porter’s 3-pointer put Washington ahead 114-112 with 32 seconds to play in regulation but Thomas was fouled by Marcin Gortat and sank two free throws with 14.4 seconds remaining to pull Boston level again. Wall and Beal missed in the dying seconds to send the game into over-time.
Kelly Oubre’s 3-pointer put Washington ahead 117-114 but Thomas proved all-but unstoppable down the stretch for Boston.
The Wizards, who led 42-29 after the first period, became the first team since the NBA introduced a shot clock in 1954 to lose the first two games of a playoff series after leading each by 10 or more points at the end of the first quarter.
Wall made 7-of-10 shots and set-up 15 points in assists in the first quarter as the Wizards too advantage of nine Boston turnovers while making none in building the 13-point first-round edge, their largest lead of the first half.
But the Celtics forced seven Wizards turnovers in the second period and made only one as Thomas scored 18 of Boston’s first 36 points and the hosts pulled within 67-64 at half-time.