WASHINGTON (AP) — Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows 5-foot-9 guard Isaiah Thomas rarely faces players his own size. Thomas just brings his best game to the biggest matchups.
Against John Wall and the Washington Wizards, Thomas darted and dazzled all over the court, leading the Celtics to a 116-91 blowout Monday night. Thomas scored a game-high 23 points and added nine assists in three quarters of action as the Celtics held Wall in check to sweep the season series.
Going up against Wall motivated Thomas, though it was the kind of performance the Celtics (25-21) have become accustomed to from their pint-sized point guard.
“You always are excited when you’re a guy like Isaiah who’s got a chip on his shoulder to challenge himself against the best,” Stevens said. “But I think Isaiah’s pretty consistent regardless of who we’re playing in how he approaches every night. … He’s got a nice swagger about him, but he also respects the game and respects everybody. But certainly you get excited to play against guys like John Wall.”
Thomas earned an All-Star endorsement from Wizards coach Randy Wittman before the game and spent the next few hours showing why. It didn’t matter the matchup, as Thomas’ jump shot and drive game were working.
In the locker room following Boston’s third straight victory, a teammate said of Thomas, “Get that man to the All-Star Game.”
“I just for some reason play well against these guys,” said Thomas, who averages 23 points per game against the Wizards. “I don’t know what it is, but I just go out there and play and let the ball fall where it may.”
The ball fell plenty for the Celtics, as five other players scored in double figures. Evan Turner had 18 points, Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart scored 13 apiece, and Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder 11.
As much praise as there was for Thomas and the Celtics’ balanced attack, the Wizards (20-22) weren’t pleased with how the game slipped away after a back-and-forth first half that featured 14 lead changes. The second half was all Boston.
“It’s an embarrassing loss,” said forward Jared Dudley, who scored 15 points. “I think guys (have) got to start looking at themselves in the mirror. I know we’re trying to do everything the right way. Guys are playing hard, you’re not questioning them like that, but overall we have to take it up another notch. And to lose that type of game (with) three, four days off, I think it’s unacceptable.”
Wall had just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting after scoring 36 against the Celtics in their previous meeting.
Stopping Wall and the Wizards in transition was a major focus.
“We just tried to wear him down, try to cut the head off the snake early,” Smart said. “He’s the one that gets them going in transition, pushing the ball with his speed and his creating ability. We just tried to limit that and make the other guys beat us from outside.”
The Celtics had plenty of energy despite having their game scheduled for Saturday in Philadelphia pushed to Sunday. The Wizards hadn’t played in five days because their game against Utah was postponed.
With many roads in the city still unplowed and mass transit limited, Verizon Center was about half full with an official attendance of 11,753. One fan who braved the roads to get there was forward Andre Burakovsky of the NHL’s Capitals, who had two home games postponed by snow.
Celtics: Boston improved to 8-3 in the second half of back-to-back games this season. … The weather-affected stretch of three games in four days “feels like AAU again” to Smart. … Crowder said he and Wizards F Drew Gooden patched things up after a hard foul in the fourth quarter. … F Otto Porter scored 15 points after missing four games with a sore right hip.
Wizards: G Bradley Beal took a forearm to the face from Smart in the second quarter and did not return. Wittman said Beal was going through concussion protocol. … Gooden entered in garbage time, returning from a three-game absence because of a sore left calf. … F Nene was assessed a flagrant 1 foul in the fourth quarter for hitting Smart in the face.
Celtics: Host Denver on Wednesday.
Wizards: At Toronto on Tuesday.
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