Wizards roll by Celtics to earn their first playoff spot since 2008

Posted April 02, 2014, at 10:33 p.m.
Last modified April 02, 2014, at 11:09 p.m.
Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green dunks the ball past Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center in Washington Wednesday night. The Wizards won 118-92 and qualified for the NBA playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.
Geoff Burke | USA Today Sports
Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green dunks the ball past Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center in Washington Wednesday night. The Wizards won 118-92 and qualified for the NBA playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

WASHINGTON — Center Marcin Gortat scored 22 points and guard John Wall had 13 points and 10 assists as the Washington Wizards clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008 with a 118-92 victory over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Guard Bradley Beal had 19 points for the Wizards (39-36), who never trailed, led by 15 points in the first quarter, 57-46 at halftime and as many as 33 in the second half.

Washington shot 62.5 percent from the field, its best performance since the 2001 season. Six players score in double figures, including all five starters.

Sixth in the Eastern Conference, Washington entered the day 2 1/2 games behind the Brooklyn Nets and two games ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Forward Jared Sullinger scored 25 points and center Kelly Olynyk added 14 in the Celtics’ 11th straight road loss. Boston (23-52) has dropped six in a row and 11 of 12 overall.

Boston guard Rajon Rando scored 13 points in his return after sitting out Monday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Forward Trevor Ariza had 18 points and Trevor Booker scored 10 for the Wizards. Forward Al Harrington added 12 off the bench and his 3-pointer gave Washington its largest lead at 95-62 one minute into the fourth quarter.

The Celtics finished 3 of 24 from beyond the arc and shot 39.5 percent from the field overall. Washington made 10 of 19 3-point attempts.

After capping the 2007-08 season with a playoff appearance, the Wizards went 117-277 during the next five seasons.

Wall and coach Randy Wittman hugged on the sideline in the game’s final seconds. Wittman, who replaced Flip Saunders during the 2011-12 season, had never qualified for the playoffs as a head coach in seven seasons with three different teams.

Washington could have clinched the postseason earlier this week with a win at Charlotte on Monday or a New York Knicks loss. Instead, the Wizards blew a fourth-quarter lead before falling to the Bobcats 100-94 and the Knicks won two road games.

The Wizards handled their affairs against the Celtics, outscoring Boston 32-16 in the third quarter before the crowd of 17,770.

Gortat made 7 of 10 shots from the field for 16 points in the first half and finished 10 of 13 overall with eight rebounds.

After sinking 8 of 12 attempts in Monday’s loss, Beal made his first seven shots from the field against the Celtics.

Celtics forward Jeff Green scored 13 points but missed all six of his 3-point attempts and finished 3 of 13 overall.

NOTES: Celtics G Avery Bradley (strained right Achilles) did not play. … The season series concludes April 16 in Boston. … Wizards’ forward Nene (sprained left MCL knee) has yet to return to practice, though he has worked out with team trainers for multiple days, coach Randy Wittman said. Out since Feb. 23, Nene has missed 19 straight games. … Wizards G John Wall posted his second career triple-double against the Celtics on Jan. 22, but Boston F Jeff Green scored 39 points in the Celtics’ 113-111 road victory. …The Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. Washington visits the New York Knicks on Friday.

Timberwolves 102, Grizzlies 88

Kevin Love had 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his third career triple-double as host Minnesota defeated Memphis for only the second time in the last 15 meetings.

Kevin Martin scored 21 points and Ricky Rubio added 14 points and seven assists for the Timberwolves. Ronny Turiaf had 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and collected seven rebounds and three blocked shots as Minnesota evened its record at .500 with eight games remaining.

Marc Gasol had 18 points and Courtney Lee added 14 for the Grizzlies, who slipped into a tie with Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Zach Randolph had just four points on 1-of-8 shooting.

Minnesota held a nine-point lead before erupting for a 15-4 run that put the game away. Martin scored eight straight during the surge, Turiaf scored back-to-back baskets and Corey Brewer capped it with two free throws to make it 100-80 with 2:53 remaining.

The Timberwolves led 48-41 at halftime and stretched the lead to 18 on a dunk by Love with one minute left in the third. Minnesota held a 77-61 advantage entering the final stanza before Memphis pulled within nine on a dunk by Ed Davis with eight minutes to play.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Timberwolves C Nikola Pekovic sat out after reinjuring his troublesome ankle on Monday. … The Grizzlies were just 4-of-6 from the free-throw line, while Minnesota was 11-of-16. … Love was called for a flagrant 1 foul for delivering an elbow to Grizzlies F James Johnson with 8:37 remaining.

 

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