Just when it appeared Washington fans would have little to worry about besides draft position over the next couple weeks, the short-handed Wizards delivered a dominating victory over one of the NBA’s best teams.
Kristaps Porzingis had 32 points and 13 rebounds, and the Wizards boosted their flickering postseason hopes with a 130-111 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.
The Wizards won despite the absence of Bradley Beal (left knee soreness) and Kyle Kuzma (right ankle sprain) and pulled within two-and-a-half games of Chicago for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington has six games remaining in the regular season.
‘Probably the best pace, for 36-to-40 minutes, that we’ve seen all year,’ Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. ‘After makes, misses, were able to accumulate quite a few fast break points. Not all those were just off of misses. So being able to play with pace and kind of get stuff early in the clock I thought helped us.’
Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis led Washington past Boston, scoring 32 of his team’s 130 pts
The Wizards’ Deni Avdija matched a career high with 25 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Celtics
Washington finished with a 19-11 edge in fast break points.
The Celtics had their three-game winning streak snapped and fell to two-and-a-half games behind Milwaukee for the top record in the NBA. Jayson Tatum led Boston with 28 points, but the Celtics trailed 64-51 at halftime, and then their deficit rose to as many as 23 points in the third quarter.
Milwaukee plays at Indiana on Wednesday before a showdown Thursday against the Celtics. Deni Avdija matched a career high with 25 points and added 10 rebounds for Washington. Monte Morris scored 19 points.
‘Trying to make the right decisions, trying to be aggressive,’ Avdija said. ‘I guess I’m just not thinking, I’m just playing my game, making plays for others.’
Jaylen Brown contributed 18 points for the Celtics.
The Wizards went one-of-eight from three-point range in the first quarter but still led 29-23. Their shooting picked up in a big way — they finished 13 of 37 from beyond the arc — and Boston never mounted much of a challenge in the second half.
The Celtics substituted liberally in the fourth quarter and actually cut the lead down to 13, but then Avdija had a steal and dunk and the Wizards held on without any trouble.
Jayson Tatum was the C’s highest scorer of the night with 28 points in what was a poor display
CAVALIERS 118, HAWKS 120
Dejounte Murray sank three free throws with 2:14 remaining to give Atlanta the lead and added a fall-away jumper with less than a minute left to lead the Hawks to a 120-118 win over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
Murray led Atlanta with 29 points and Onyeka Okongwu added a season-high 21. The Hawks remained tied with Toronto, which beat Miami 106-92 on Tuesday night, for the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers held out starting forward Isaac Okoro (left knee soreness) and center Jarrett Allen (strained right groin) and were led by Donovan Mitchell’s 44 points. Mitchell, who surpassed 10,000 career points, tied LeBron James’ Cavaliers record of 10 games of 40-or-more points in a season.
With Atlanta’s win, NBA- and Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee clinched the Central Division title.
Dejounte Murray had 29 points for the Hawks vs. the Cavaliers to boost Atlanta’s playoff hopes
GRIZZLIES 113, MAGIC 108
Desmond Bane scored 31 points and made 8 of 10 free throws down the stretch, leading Memphis past Orlando.
Bane’s free throws thwarted a last-minute rush by the Magic, led by Franz Wagner, who ended up with 25 points, including nine in the final 1:10.
Xavier Tillman had 20 points for Memphis, while Luke Kennard and Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 16 points apiece. Jackson added 10 rebounds and three blocks.
Ja Morant, the Grizzlies’ leading scorer, sat out the first night of a back-to-back with right thigh soreness.
Paolo Banchero finished with 24 points and Wendell Carter Jr. added 14 for the Magic.
Desmond Bayne scored 31 points in the Grizzlies’ blowout win against the Magic on Tuesday
PELICANS 109, WARRIORS 120
Stephen Curry had 39 points with eight 3-pointers, eight rebounds and eight assists, Jordan Poole added 21 points with consecutive layups that gave Golden State the lead early in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors rallied past the New Orleans Pelicans 120-109 on Tuesday night in a testy, playoff-like matchup in late March.
Klay Thompson scored 17 and hit five 3s to set a new single-season career high of 278, which leads the NBA.
The Warriors moved up a spot into sixth place in the crowded Western Conference standings, a half-game up on Minnesota and 1 1-and-a-half games ahead of New Orleans.
Golden State lost 99-96 at home to the Timberwolves on Sunday, so coming back from 20 down to win this one was key as the defending champions try to avoid the play-in round. The top six teams are guaranteed playoff berths.
Brandon Ingram had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Steph Curry led the Warriors from 20 down to defeat the Pelicans in a tightly-called contest
Trey Murphy III scored 21 points and CJ McCollum added 15 for the Pelicans, who came in riding a five-game winning streak.
Draymond Green chirped and pushed the emotions and physicality all game, then threw an alley-oop to Jonathan Kuminga for a dunk with 7:09 left for one of his 13 assists and a 101-98 advantage.
Green was whistled for a double technical for tussling with Ingram late in the second quarter – and Green’s foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 1.
He already served a one-game suspension March 17 at Atlanta for his 16th technical.
HORNETS 137, THUNDER 134
P.J. Washington scored 22 of his career-high 43 points in the fourth quarter, and Charlotte rallied to beat Oklahoma City for its third straight win.
Three Thunder players scored career highs — Isaiah Joe with 33 points and Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams with 31 each. But Williams and Giddey each missed one of two free throws in the final 16 seconds, and Williams missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
It was a potentially costly loss for Oklahoma City. The Thunder were looking to strengthen their position in the Western Conference play-in race despite being short-handed.
Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered the day fourth in the league averaging 31.3 points per game, sat out with a sprained left ankle.
Charlotte was short-handed, too. Terry Rozier (right foot discomfort) and Kelly Oubre (strained right shoulder) sat out for the third straight game and Dennis Smith (sprained right toe) also did not play.
P.J. Washington scored 22 of his career-high 43 points in the fourth quarter against OKC
RAPTORS 106, HEAT 92
Pascal Siakam scored 26 points, Scottie Barnes had 22 points and a career-high 12 assists and Toronto beat Miami.
O.G. Anunoby scored 22 points, and Precious Achiuwa and Fred VanVleet each had 12 as Toronto won for the 10th time in 11 home games.
Tyler Herro scored 33 points and Bam Adebayo had 21 points and 12 rebounds as Miami lost its second straight. The Heat are 15-22 on the road.
Miami played without leading scorer Jimmy Butler, who sat because of a sore neck.
Toronto’s Pascal Siakam scored 26 points to keep the ninth-seed Raptors’ playoff chances alive