The Boston Celtics came into D.C. on a six-game winning streak Wednesday, but three of their top players — Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford — didn’t suit up.
The Celtics, led by Kyrie Irving’s 38 points and seven assists, showed their depth in handing the Washington Wizards its third straight loss, 130-125, in overtime before a sellout crowd.
Thousands of Celtics fans packed Capital One Arena in northwest D.C., but Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said Boston’s is one of the few fans bases in the NBA that travel.
“It’s always a good atmosphere. It’s a traveling show,” he said. “It’s always been that way. They can go anywhere. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the last cheer.”
In the final seconds of regulation, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal missed the second of a pair of free throws, but grabbed the rebound and laid it back in to tie the game at 113 to send the game into overtime.
But the game’s last 40 seconds belonged to Irving.
The All-Star point guard drained a 3-pointer from 27 feet with counterpart John Wall contesting the shot, giving Boston a 125-123 lead.
After Wall answered with a driving layup to tie the game, Irving dribbled at the top of the key and pulled from 30 feet, swishing a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to give the Celtics the lead for good.
Wall, who said his right foot was stepped on when he drove for a layup at about the two-minute mark in overtime, led the Wizards with 34 points and 13 assists in slightly more than 40 minutes.
“I thought we played good defense. Those guys made some tough nights,” Wall said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win the game. Those guys just made bigger shots at the end than we did.”
One stat Brooks said has been a problem all season: second-chance points. Even without Boston’s leading rebounder in Horford, the Celtics outscored the Wizards on second-chance points 24-8.
Although Boston (17-10) shot 45 percent from the floor, the team was a perfect 25-for-25 from the free-throw line. Washington made 21-of-29 (72 percent) of its free throws.
In addition, Boston scored 38 points in the third quarter compared to Wasdhington’s 22. The Wizards (11-17) committed seven of its 15 turnovers in the quarter.
“Those turnovers killed us,” said Bell, who scored 22 points but committed six turnovers. “It’s a championship-caliber team over there. They compete their tails off. They are one of the best in the East, if not the best in the East. It’s always a battle when we play them.”
Celtics power forward Marcus Morris, who scored 27 points and pulled down nine rebounds, agreed.
“We always get a good game from them. I think they are better than what their record shows,” said Morris, who played against his twin brother, Markieff Morris. “I think down the stretch they are going to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.”
Meanwhile, the Wizards played without small forward Otto Porter Jr. due to a right knee contusion. Wizards center Dwight Howard missed his 12th straight game after minor surgery to repair a gluteal muscle.
Washington travels to New York City to face the Brooklyn Nets (11-18) on Friday before returning home to host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (17-10) on Sunday.