Towel draped over his shoulder, John Wall didn’t have any worries as he sat for the entire fourth quarter of the Washington Wizards’ 118-92 victory over the Boston Celtics, gleefully letting the deep end of the bench close out a game that will take him — and the franchise he was drafted to lead — to a place he has never been. A long, painful and often embarrassing wait finally ended as the Wizards clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008. Wall had scribbled the word “playoffs” on his sneakers to remind himself what this season is all about. Needing just one win to get in, the Wizards came out with a determined effort to make sure that those marker etchings rang true. As the final seconds ticked off at Verizon Center and fans rose to their feet to applaud, Wall took the towel from his shoulder and whirled it around. He then walked up to Coach Randy Wittman, thanked him, and gave him a long hug. “I knew it would be a tough journey, but I didn’t think it would be this tough and this long,” Wall said. “It’s everything I’ve been waiting for as a point guard and trying to learn how to lead in this league and become a better player, but also I think the fans deserve it — the tough time they went through and booing us and feeling bad when we’re not playing good. . . . It took a long time, but I’m kind of happy and excited to say I’m going to be in the postseason, I won’t have an early vacation.” The rebuilding Celtics offered little resistance against a team that entered the evening clearly on a mission. The Wizards never trailed, shot a season-high 62.5 percent from the field and led by 33 points in the fourth quarter. Marcin Gortat had his way inside against Boston’s smallish front line and scored 10 of his team-high 22 points in the first six minutes as the Wizards jumped out to a 21-6 lead. Gortat was so loose that he jokingly wound up joining the Celtics’ team huddle during an awkward third-quarter encounter in which Boston point guard Rajon Rondo actually had his arm wrapped around Gortat while addressing his team. After the game, Gortat was even able to convince Wall to dance at center court while the players gathered to celebrate the win. “I knew John was a very good point guard and I knew he got incredible dance moves,” Gortat said. “I was trying to convince him for about six months to dance for me. Until that point, I was failing.” Wall scored just 13 points but he also had a game-high 10 assists to record his 27th double-double, leading some sensational ball movement that resulted in the Wizards handing out 29 assists. Bradley Beal made his first seven field goals and finished with 19 points and Trevor Ariza added 18 points as the Wizards also moved within 11 / 2 games of the Brooklyn Nets for fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings with seven games remaining.
Wizards rout Celtics, 118-82, to clinch first playoff berth since 2008
Washington Post | Apr 3