Tue, May 02, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Toothless Isaiah Thomas leads Celtics to victory

AP, BOSTON

Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics, center, goes to the basket against the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

It seems nothing can stop Isaiah Thomas this post-season — be it pains big or small.

The All-Star led the Celtics to a first-round win over the Chicago Bulls in a haze after learning the day before that series that his younger sister, Chyna Thomas, had died in a car accident outside of his native Tacoma, Washington.

That pain persisted on the eve of Boston’s second-round pairing with the Washington Wizards, when he flew across the country to attend her funeral.

Then Sunday’s game brought the latest dose of adversity, when he had one of his front teeth dislodged after an early collision, but as he has done all post-season, he continued to find a way to push through it.

Thomas had 33 points and nine assists as the Celtics made 19 three-pointers to beat the Wizards 123-111 and take a 1-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

“I got in at 4am,” Thomas said of his second flight to Washington in two weeks. “It’s tough, but it’s the playoffs, so there are no excuses. I decided to play and I just tried to give it all for my team.”

The Celtics star flew to the funeral with Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and assistant coach Jerome Allen.

During player introductions, Thomas pointed to the TD Garden rafters when his name was called.

Al Horford added 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Jae Crowder finished with career playoff-high 24 points.

Game 2 is scheduled for today.

The Wizards were more energetic at the outset, jumping out to a 16-0 advantage and leading by as many as 17 points, but the Celtics rallied with Thomas briefly sidelined while getting his tooth repositioned in the second quarter.

“I didn’t know if we’d ever score and I didn’t know if they’ve ever stop scoring,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 27 points, while John Wall added 20 points and 16 assists.

Washington starter Markieff Morris played just 11 minutes before leaving with a sprained left ankle in the second quarter after landing awkwardly on Horford’s foot.

The Wizards also had a tough time responding after Stevens started Marcus Smart in place of Gerald Green in the third quarter.

“They were a little more aggressive than we were,” Beal said. “Our defense slipped a little. We lacked some IQ and focus.”

After the Wizards’ early scoring flurry, Thomas lost his tooth, but initially kept playing.

He found it during a timeout and started the second quarter in the locker room.

His teammates went on a 13-2 run without him to cut into Washington’s lead. Boston led by 15 by the end of the third.

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