Wizards pound Celtics to lock up playoffs

Wizards pound Celtics to lock up playoffs
April 2, 2014, 9:15 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The wait is over for the Wizards, who finally made clinching a playoff spot for the first time in six years official Wednesday night by dominating the Boston Celtics wire-to-wire for their largest margin of victory of the season, 118-92, in front of 17,770 at Verizon Center.

Marcin Gortat had his way inside with Jared Sullinger, who came off the bench and earned most of the playing time at center for Boston (23-52). Gortat had 16 of his 22 points and seven of his game-high eight rebounds at halftime. Bradley Beal scored 19, John Wall added 13 points and 10 assists, Trevor Ariza 18 points and seven rebounds and Trevor Booker 10 points. 

All five starters for the Wizards (39-36) were in double-figure scoring after three quarters. When Gortat scores 20 or more, they're 4-0. 

In his first action vs. Wall since 2012, Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Sullinger had a game-high 25 points and Jeff Green, a product of Georgetown, was held to 13 points on 3-for-13 shooting.

[MORE: Wiz meet Leonsis' playoff demand]

The Wizards kept pace for the No. 6 seed ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats (37-38), who won their third game in four Wednesday by punishing the Philadelphia 76ers 123-93. 

The Brooklyn Nets (40-34), who are in the No. 5 spot, were routed by the New York Knicks 110-81. The Nets are just 1.5 games ahead of Washington. The Knicks (33-43) have jumped into the eighth and final playoff spot coupled with the Atlanta Hawks' seventh loss in 10 games. The Hawks (32-42) fell to the Chicago Bulls 105-92 on Wednesday. 

Turning point: Opening tip. The Wizards began with a 19-4 run, had their lead trimmed to as little as seven by the second quarter but never were seriously threatened. It grew to as much as 33 when Harrington made consecutive three-pointers to begin the fourth.  

Key stats: Washington shot a season-high 62.5 percent, making 45 of 72 shots. It was their best shooting performance since 2001 ... Boston missed 21 of 24 three-point shots. 

In check: Phil Pressey started at point guard the last time the Celtics played in Washington, scoring a career-high 20 points in a 113-111 upset on Jan. 22. He came off the bench behind Rondo this time and failed to score in 19 minutes. 

Almost perfect: Beal left the game with five minutes in the first quarter without taking a shot, returned and went 7-for-7 from the field, including his only three-point shot. He made all four free throws and missed his only field goal at the end. It was his second game in a row shooting 50 percent or better from the field.  

Otto time: Otto Porter entered midway through the fourth quarter to chants of his name, hitting his first field goal from three-point range. Porter had a career-high nine points in six minutes by making all three of his field-goal attempts. 

From the locker room:  "I put all pressure on me in anything we do, losing, winning or anything like that. That's just the way I am and that's how competitive I am so for this (to happen and) to do it with a great group of guys means a lot." -- Wall

"I'm just as thrilled, too. This is an opportunity for me as a head coach. This is my first time and I'm looking forward to it." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman. 

"We just played the right way. We were swinging the ball perfectly. We had an in-and-out game. We ran different stuff and each one of us contributed to that win. It was a great night. ... I'm happy for John. For the first time in his life he's going to be able to taste the playoffs. Hopefully he's going to like it and for the rest of his life he is going to play in the playoffs." -- Gortat

"We've got to keep our seed where it is and hopefully move higher. We play Chicago, we play Charlotte again, so we are trying to chase Chicago. Charlotte is on our tails. We've definitely got to focus on each game." -- Beal 

"I wish him well. It'll be fun, exciting. ... For such a young guy to have so much pressure on him, having a franchise on his back and he's finally able to get to the playoffs, I'm sure it's kind of a like a burden lifted off of him. I'm sure he doesn't want to settle there." -- Rondo on Wall

"We didn't provide any fight tonight." -- Celtics coach Brad Stevens

Up next: The Wizards will not practice Wednesday before leaving to play at the New York Knicks on Friday (CSN, 7 p.m. ET), the first of a back-to-back. They'll shoot around the morning of the game. 

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