John Wall has wanted these playoffs to bring him and the Wizards more respect. They want to be seen as one of the best teams in the East.
He took a step that direction Friday night, knocking down a game-winning three to give Washington a 92-91 win over the Celtics and force a Game 7 Monday night back in Boston.
The Celtics were up two with 7.7 left after Al Horford summoned the ghost of Tim Duncan and hit a 16-foot bank shot from the wing (you can debate amongst yourselves whether he meant to bank it). Wall had sprinted out high to get the inbound pass, took a couple of dribbles to size up Avery Bradley, then took the three from about three feet behind the line. He drained it.
Washington won after an Isaiah Thomas miss at the other end.
After the game, he fired back at the Celtics, who wore all black to the game to suggest it was the funeral of the Wizards season.
“Don’t come to my city wearing all black talking about it’s a funeral,” Wall said in a televised interview from the court after the game. “We’ve worked too hard for this. All we asked for was a Game 7, 50/50.”
It had been a sloppy, inefficient, gritty game that in a lot of ways favored the Celtics, but it was Wall and the Wizards who got the win. It was also a close and entertaining game in a series — and a playoff round — that has seen more than its share of blowouts.
Bradley Beal had 33 and for much of the game saved the Wizards. John Wall finished with 26 points and eight assists but was off for the first three quarters (he started 1-of-9 and shot 6-of-20 until the fourth), Marcin Gortat had four points and 13 rebounds while spending much of the game in foul trouble, while Otto Porter was scoreless in 36 minutes.
It was also a game all about the starters as neither bench did much — Washington got 13 from its (led by Ian Mahinmi with six points) while Boston only got five points from non-starters.