BOSTON — Isaiah Thomas scored 29 of his 53 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and the Boston Celtics rallied to beat the Washington Wizards 129-119 and take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Tuesday night.
Thomas, who scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, honored his late sister’s birthday with a career-high night, as he shot 18-of-33 from the floor and came alive in the final quarter and in the extra period.
The Boston point guard lost his sister Chyna in a one-car accident on April 15, and after struggling in the opening period of the playoffs, he’s becoming lively again — as he put up the second-most points by a Celtics player in a playoff game behind John Havlicek, who had 54 on April 1, 1973.
“She would have been 23 today, so the least I can do is go out there and play for her,” Thomas said.
“There was no way I couldn’t play on her birthday. I wanted to win for her.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said: “What else is there to say?”
“There was a point today where he was not feeling good at all.
“He’s had a tough day and I thought he was going to really have to gut this one out. Not only guts it out, he ends up with 50.
Al Horford shot 6-of-9 from the field to finish with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder scored 14 apiece for the Celtics, who are 2-0 in the best-of-seven game series.
Crowder also grabbed seven rebounds and Terry Rozier had 12 important points off the bench for Boston, which trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half at TD Garden.
John Wall led the Wizards with 40 points, two shy of his career playoff best — and dished out 13 assists, as all five starters for the Wizards scored in double figures.
Wall’s performance saw him matching the second-most by a Washington player in playoff loss — going equal with Elvin Hayes, who also scored 40 in 1974 against New York.
“It was just me coming out trying to be aggressive for my team, doing everything I can to help this team win,” Wall said.
Markieff Morris recovered from an ankle injury in Game 1 to finish with 16 points and six rebounds before fouling out, Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 10 rebounds before he also exited the game with six fouls.
Reaching double figures in scoring as well were Bradley Beal, who scored 14 points, while Kelly Oubre Jr. contributed 12 points and seven rebounds and Jason Smith scored 10 points for the Wizards, who were outscored 15-5 in overtime.
After a high-scoring first half, which saw Washington going into the break with a 67-64 lead, the visitors used a 14-0 run to help extend their advantage to 81-67 with 7:57 to go in the third quarter.
However, Boston fought back to close the gap to just four points, at 89-84, entering the fourth quarter before Thomas took over.
Both teams were tied 114-114 at the end of regulation, after Thomas made two free throws to knot the scores and both Wall and Bradley Beal missed attempts for potential game-winners in the final 1.9 seconds.
“It was a hell of a basketball game,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.
“Two teams played their hearts out. Two great players played well. I thought both teams competed, nothing to be ashamed of.”