WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Wizards guard John Wall didn’t sound or look like someone who’d just scored his team’s final 10 points in Monday night’s double overtime win against the Boston Celtics.
Instead, he broke down during a postgame television interview and was somber in the locker room on the day he learned that Damiyah Telemaque-Nelson, a 6-year-old cancer patient he befriended last March, had died.
“This game was really meant for her. It would’ve been an even tougher day to lose it,” said Wall, who received the news via text message Monday morning and dedicated the game to his friend. “I just went into a mode where I didn’t want to lose this game.”
Wall scored 26 points and the Wizards rallied for a 133-132 win over the Boston Celtics in double overtime after squandering a 23-point third quarter lead.
“Yeah, it was a tough day for him,” coach Randy Wittman said of Wall. “I thought he handled it well, but he was hurting at the end.”
Wall added a career-high 17 assists, Paul Pierce scored a season-high 28 against his former team and Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Washington, which outlasted the Celtics to salvage the finale of the home-and-home series after losing Sunday in Boston.
Jeff Green led Boston with 28 points, rookie Marcus Smart added a career-high 23 and Kelly Olynyk finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The Celtics led by seven in the second extra period, but Wall’s jumper pulled the Wizards to 132-130 with 53 seconds left.
After Smart missed a 3-pointer, Bradley Beal rebounded and passed to Wall, who drove to the basket, scored and made a free throw for a three-point play that put Washington ahead 133-132 with 44 seconds remaining.
“Those transition baskets killed us, both overtimes,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “John Wall killed us in transition.”
Boston, which had won three straight, had a chance after a miss by Wall, but Evan Turner’s jumper from about 20 feet with 0.9 seconds left was long.
“I got the shot I wanted. I work on that shot every single day at practice,” Turner said. “It felt good. It just missed.”
Celtics reserves played heavy minutes after sparking the rally and accounted for 82 points, the highest Boston bench total since at least the 1985-86 season, according to Stats, LLC.
Boston led by seven late in the first overtime as well, but Pierce tied the score at 121 with a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left. Both teams missed shots in the final 10 seconds.
With the Celtics trailing 110-107 after Washington’s Kris Humphries hit one of two free throws with 16 seconds left, Olynyk missed a 3-pointer, but Green rebounded and Turner (18 points) sank a corner 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left to force overtime.
The Wizards led 88-65 late in the third before Boston rallied.
“You never want to get in those situations and you’ve got to learn a better way to close out those games,” Wall said. “But it’s also a great lesson for us.”
Washington was still up 102-88 in the fourth quarter before going 4:39 without a point.
Celtics: Boston is 2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. … The Celtics are shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range in the last four games after a poor start to the season. “It’s the law of averages,” Stevens said before the game. “We can all over-analyze a small sample of stats or we can let it fly. I prefer to just let it fly.”
Wizards: Pierce (25,300 points) passed Reggie Miller (25,279) for 16th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. … F Nene sat out with a sore right knee. .. Washington improved to 10-2 at Verizon Center, its best home start since 1984-85. … The Wizards are 5-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.
RONDO ON THE BENCH
With the Celtics bench providing a spark, several starters played far less than their normal minutes, including Rajon Rondo, who was scoreless in just under 21 minutes of action. “I’m very competitive. I wanted to play. I wanted to compete and be on the floor,” he said. “But, the guys in front of me, the guys that were out there were playing great, and I don’t want to mess up any momentum.”
Celtics: At Orlando on Wednesday.
Wizards: At Charlotte on Wednesday.
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