Celtics host Wizards, hunting for first post-break win
The Boston Celtics will look to snap a four-game losing streak when they host the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Winless since the All-Star break, the Celtics are fifth in the Eastern Conference, although finishing third is realistic if they can right the ship.
After an 0-3 road trip, the Celtics returned home Wednesday and dropped a 97-92 decision to the Portland Trail Blazers. Boston didn't lead after the first quarter, but the result was an improvement after being routed 118-95 on Tuesday at Toronto.
Kyrie Irving scored 31 points for the Celtics, who continue to struggle at a time when teams are trying to get into a playoff groove.
"It's part of the NBA season. You never know," Irving said in the Boston Herald. "I've been part of two organizations. One where I was in Cleveland, and in 2017 down the stretch we lost a lot of games in a row and ended up sweeping the whole Eastern Conference."
Irving's 3-pointer with 28 seconds left cut Portland's lead to 95-92, but Portland's Damian Lillard sealed it with two free throws with 12 seconds left.
Jaylen Brown had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics. Jayson Tatum added 14 points, and Marcus Smart and Al Horford scored 13 each.
"I actually just told the guys, you walk out of here a little bit more encouraged because the reason we lost, if anything, was we didn't make shots, and I think it was because we were pressing," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said in the Herald.
"Tonight, you know, to come back and guard this team on the second night of a back-to-back and hold them under 100 is -- we give ourselves a chance to win. We just didn't score enough."
Celtics guard Terry Rozier missed Wednesday's game because of a sore knee tendon.
Washington is coming off a rare road win -- 125-116 at Brooklyn on Wednesday, improving to 8-24 away from home.
Bradley Beal scored 31 points, and Trevor Ariza had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who had lost four straight overall and nine of 12.
Washington pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Nets 33-19.
"We were locked in. We defended," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "We did a great job defending the basketball."
Reserve Thomas Bryant had 18 points, and Bobby Portis finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards, who led by as many as 28 points and out-rebounded Brooklyn 57-41.
Beal converted 12 of 22 field goal attempts as he ended a torrid February. He averaged 30.9 points while shooting 52.4 percent from the field in the month.
"It's a huge accomplishment," Beal said.
"I just want to win -- whatever it looks like. Sometimes it's going to involve me scoring 30-plus and some nights I won't have to. So whatever it looks like, I want to go out there and get it done. ... I'm super confident right now in my game and I'm just trying to make the playoffs."
Washington is 11th in the East, three games out of the final playoff spot.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 28, 2019