Bryant’s 26 lead Wizards past Celtics for 1st win in restart

Washington Wizards' Thomas Bryant (13) dunks during their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics onAug. 13, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports)
Short Url
Updated 13 August 2020

Bryant’s 26 lead Wizards past Celtics for 1st win in restart

  • Having already locked into a playoff matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics rested their starters

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Thomas Bryant had 26 points and nine rebounds to help the Washington Wizards beat the Boston Celtics 96-90 on Thursday for their lone win in the restart.
Troy Brown Jr. added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Wizards, who had long been eliminated from the playoff race and had lost their first seven games in the bubble. The Wizards avoided being the only winless team in the restart.
Washington coach Scott Brooks knew coming in the focus would be on building toward next season. Bradley Beal, second in the league this season at 30.5 points per game, opted out of the restart with a lingering shoulder issue. Davis Bertans, No. 2 on the Wizards in scoring and a top 3-point threat, didn’t want to risk injury with free agency ahead. And All-Star guard John Wall missed the entire season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
“I think we had a great experience here,” Brooks said. “We had a lot of good growth, a lot of good bonding experience. A lot of positives came out of it. The only thing — we didn’t win the (games) that we wanted to win.”
The Celtics, who already were locked into a playoff matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, rested their starters.
Rookie Javonte Green took advantage and scored a season-high 23 points for Boston.
“He played with great intensity on both ends of the floor, was trying to do all the right stuff and obviously made a big impact offensively and did some really good things on the glass,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Semi Ojeleye added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Celtics.
Both teams shot below 40% overall. The Wizards led 78-77 after three quarters, then outscored the Celtics 18-13 in the fourth. The Wizards held the Celtics to 22% shooting in the final 12 minutes.

TIP-INS
Wizards: Rui Hachimura sat out with a sore quad. ... Ish Smith scored 11 points and Jerome Robinson added 10. ... Outscored the Celtics 18-12 at the free throw line. ... Johnathan Williams had 16 rebounds.
Celtics: Sat Jaylen Brown (rest), Gordon Hayward (rest), Marcus Smart (rest), Jayson Tatum (left ankle), Daniel Theis (right foot) and Kemba Walker (left knee). ... Made 8 of 35 3-pointers.

QUOTABLE
Brooks, joking about a conversation with Hachimura: “I was walking off the court and I said ‘Rui, man, I made a mistake. I should have never played you the other seven games. We might have won a couple of those.’ He didn’t know how to take it. He doesn’t know my humor yet. But we laughed and joked about it.”

STAT LINES
Bryant averaged 18.6 points and 8.9 rebounds in the bubble. His season averages entering the game were 13.0 points and 7.2 boards per contest.

UP NEXT:
Wizards: Season over.
Celtics: Play the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs.


Al-Nassr on target for first Asian crown

Updated 3 min 45 sec ago

Al-Nassr on target for first Asian crown

  • The Riyadh giants defeated compatriots Al-Taawoun 1-0 on Sunday in the second round to be rewarded with another all-Saudi clash in the quarter-final
  • Now only Al-Ahli, who finished third in the SPL season, a full 14 points behind Al-Nassr, stand between Rui Vitoria’s men and a place in the last four

RIYADH: Al-Nassr may have missed out on the 2020 Saudi Pro League (SPL) title but they are now regarded as favorites to win a first continental crown after rivals Al-Hilal and Al-Sadd both fell by the wayside in the AFC Champions League.

The Riyadh giants defeated compatriots Al-Taawoun 1-0 on Sunday in the second round to be rewarded with another all-Saudi clash in the quarter-final. Now only Al-Ahli, who finished third in the SPL season, a full 14 points behind Al-Nassr, stand between Rui Vitoria’s men and a place in the last four.

“When you get to this stage of a major competition like this then you don’t mind who you play as every team is a strong one,” the Portuguese coach said.

“The game against Al-Taawoun was tough and the game against Al-Ahli will be tough. We will have to be at our best.”

Al-Nassr are looking strong at both ends of the field. Moroccan goal-machine Abderrazak Hamdallah finally broke the deadlock on Sunday evening with 15 minutes remaining, firing home a low shot from close range.

The striker, who won the 2019 SPL golden boot while propelling Al-Nassr to the title, has now equaled the tournament record set by Shanghai SIPG’s Hulk, of scoring in nine consecutive Champions League appearances.

“We know that if he gets a chance then he will score. Whether the chance comes in the first or last minute, it doesn’t matter but, of course, this is a team effort,” added Vitoria.

As clinical as Al-Nassr are in front of goal, they are solid at the back, conceding just two goals in the five games that have taken place since the tournament restarted in mid-September.

Both Al-Nassr and Al-Ahli won their respective groups but the Jeddah club did not look as convincing as their Riyadh rivals, losing two of the four games they had to play after Al-Wahda of Abu Dhabi had to withdraw over positive test results at the club for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The second-round win over Shabab Al-Ahli was as tight as could be as the Saudi team triumphed in a penalty shootout over the Dubai club after the game had finished 1-1.

“We had no preference as to whether we would play Al-Nassr or Al-Taawoun,” said Al-Ahli coach Vladan Milojevic on Monday. “It is exciting to play another team from the same country in the quarter-final. We know each other well and it will be good for the fans too. Any team at this stage is strong.”

Should Al-Nassr progress, the semi-final should hold no fears. Defending Asian champions Al-Hilal were regarded as the favorites from the West Zone (the tournament is divided into two geographic halves until the final) but after topping their group, the title-holders were forced to withdraw by the Asian Football Confederation last Wednesday after the squad was hit by a COVID-19 outbreak.

While much of Asia sympathized with Al-Hilal, the absence of the current Asian and Saudi Arabian champions will not be mourned too much at Al-Nassr.

On Sunday, another strong favorite was eliminated. Al-Sadd of Qatar are coached by former Barcelona and Spain legend Xavi and boast former Arsenal striker Santi Cazorla, South Korean internationals Nam Tae-hee and Jung Woo-yung and a number of Qatar’s 2019 Asian Cup-winning squad in their ranks. The 2011 champions, who finished just behind Al-Nassr in the group stage, were expected to go far.

Instead, they lost 1-0 to Persepolis. The Iranians will take on Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan, who defeated Esteghlal 2-1, another team from Tehran, in the other quarter final. Both teams have plenty of Asian experience and knowhow but neither have the star power of Al-Hilal and Al-Sadd.

Should Al-Nassr get to the final then they will face what could be a very tired East Asian opponent. The group stage resumes in mid-November on the opposite side of the continent and that means teams from Japan, China, Australia, or South Korea would arrive for the final after playing as many as nine games in the space on the back of domestic commitments.

The route to a first Asian crown for Al-Nassr is looking clearer than it has ever done though Al-Ahli will have something to say about that on Wednesday.