WASHINGTON • The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards just do not like each other. Just ask them.
Anyway, actions speak louder than words and the intensity went to another level on Thursday in their already contentious National Basketball Association (NBA) second-round play-off series.
More importantly for Washington, their ability to defend Isaiah Thomas and maintain a lead improved dramatically.
John Wall scored 24 points and the Wizards took control with a 22-0 run in the first quarter for a 116-89 victory over the Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. The Wizards trail 1-2 in the series after dropping two road games in Boston.
The latest charged match-up included three ejections, 52 personal fouls and eight technical fouls.
Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr was sent to the locker room in the first half for a Flagrant 2 foul as his shove on Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk was deemed unnecessary and excessive. Celtics guard Terry Rozier and Wizards guard Brandon Jennings were ejected in the fourth quarter after exchanging words and technical fouls.
KEEP A COOL HEAD
We've got to control our emotions. We can't respond that way, but when you get hit in the head a few times, you might respond that way.
SCOTT BROOKS, Washington Wizards coach, on the ejection of his player Kelly Oubre Jr following a first-half altercation with Celtics centre Kelly Olynyk.
Tempers between the teams run hot, with incidents dating back to last season and throughout the six contests this campaign, including four in the regular season.
"I guess just two teams that really don't like each other," Wall said.
His post-game comment came shortly after Thomas' turn at the podium.
"We don't like them and they don't like us," Boston's All-Star guard stated bluntly.
The Wizards led by 14 and 13 points after the first quarters of Games One and Two respectively, but ultimately could not hang on.
But this time, they avoided a letdown, pushing the lead to 30 in the second half. Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic each scored 19 points.
Thomas scored 53 points in Boston's 129-119 overtime win on Tuesday, but was held to 13 points in Game Three.
"They did a really good job tonight," he said of the Wizards. "They set the tone."
The Celtics, who had won six playoff games in a row, shot 35.1 per cent from the field and never pulled closer than 19 in the second half. Al Horford led Boston with 16 points.
"They've gotten the best of us (early) I think every time we've played them this year," Horford said. "The fact that they were home I feel like they were able to hold onto the lead and put us away."
Wizards centre Marcin Gortat said Washington learnt from their mistakes.
"We played hard. We've been in this situation. We had lost (leads) and then we lost the game," he said. "We understood what we had to do and we were locked in."
With Washington leading 45-24 early in the second quarter, Olynyk was whistled for a hard foul high on Oubre.
Reacting to the aggressive hit, Oubre charged and shoved the big man to the ground while also making contact with an official.
"I think we've got to control our emotions," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. "We can't respond that way, but when you get hit in the head a few times, you might respond that way."
Brooks and Celtics coach Brad Stevens were among those hit with technical fouls. Wizards centre Ian Mahinmi and Boston's Jonas Jerebko were also hit with technical fouls for a first-half skirmish.
CLEVELAND V TORONTO
Game Three: Singtel TV Ch110, 7am