Isaiah Thomas shook off having a tooth knocked out and the heartache of his sister’s funeral to score 33 points Sunday, powering the Boston Celtics over Washington 123-111 in an NBA playoff game.
Thomas went 11-of-23 from the floor, 6-of-7 from the free throw line and contributed nine assists as the Celtics battled back after surrendering the game’s first 16 points to beat the visiting Wizards in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference second round opener.
“It was a team effort,” Thomas said. “We got down big. We didn’t give up. We didn’t put our head down. From the first guy to the last, everybody contributed and we got the win.”
The Boston guard flew across the country to play after speaking Saturday at his sister Chyna’s funeral in Washington state. She was killed two weeks ago in a car accident.
“Basketball, when I’m on the court, it just keeps me going,” Thomas said. “I do everything for my sister now and that’s all I can do. That’s all I can do.”
Thomas also had his left front tooth knocked out after being struck in the face by an elbow from Washington’s Otto Porter midway into the first quarter.
Thomas saw his tooth pop out and fall onto the court and, not missing a beat, went over and picked up the tooth off the floor and later handed it to a Celtics trainer, broadly displaying a bloodied gap-toothed smile on the bench after going 3-for-3 following the dental mishap and leading all first-half scorers with 19 points.
“I don’t know (how Thomas does it). I wish I had that kind of character,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
The Celtics outscored Washington 36-16 in the third quarter, in which they seized their first lead at 73-71 and stretched it to 95-80 entering the fourth. The Wizards made seven turnovers in the third quarter after only three in the entire first half.
From there, it was only a matter of holding off the Wizards down the stretch.
Jae Crowder added 24 points for the Celtics while center Al Horford had 21 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds and Avery Bradley netted 18 points.
Bradley Beal scored 27 points while John Wall added 20 points and 16 assists and Porter and Marcin Gortat each had 16 points.
Washington took a 64-59 half-time lead after opening on a 16-0 run, blanking the Celtics over almost four minutes at the start.
In the second quarter, Washington’s Markieff Morris injured his left ankle when he made a jump shot but landed on Horford’s foot. He stayed in the game to make a free throw but the Wizards fouled immediately so they could remove Morris and send him to the locker room.
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