WASHINGTON (AP) — Two days after Boston lost to the team chasing the Celtics atop the Eastern Conference standings, guard Kyrie Irving wasn't about to let his team suffer another defeat.
Irving scored 12 of Boston's last 17 points and finished with 28 to help the Celtics remain in sole possession of the East lead with a 110-104 overtime victory over the Washington Wizards on Thursday night.
"Every game for us is a learning experience, and it's almost like a 'must-win," Irving said after his second game back from a thigh injury. "Just based on the amount of expectations and what we put on ourselves and one another on a game-to-game basis."
Jaylen Brown added five of his 18 points in overtime for Boston. The Celtics have won five of six, and remained a game ahead of Toronto in the race for the East's top playoff seed after the Raptors' win over New York earlier Thursday. The Raptors beat the Celtics 111-91 in Toronto on Tuesday.
Otto Porter had 27 points and 11 rebounds for Washington, and Bradley Beal had 18 points and matched his career high with nine assists.
But as John Wall remains sidelined following knee surgery, the Wizards committed 22 turnovers and shot just 2 for 12 in the overtime period, dropping their second straight game after winning five straight.
Beal, who shot just 7 of 27 and took only one foul shot, suggested officiating played a role.
"It's crazy," he said of his lack of free throws. "Because I feel like I'm being just as aggressive as everybody else out there. My teammates are doing the same. Sometimes we don't get rewarded."
Meanwhile, Irving went 9 of 10 from the foul line. And after Boston allowed Washington to come back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, he tied it from the line with 9.8 seconds remaining in regulation on three made foul shots after luring Markieff Morris into a foul on a 3-point attempt.
"Nowhere near a foul," Morris said. "(The referee) was behind me. I don't know how could see me swiping down on the ball and me hitting his arm. If I hit his arm, there's no way he would get the shot up."
Said Irving: "I just don't want to get into the whole 'whether it was a foul or not.' I don't want to get fined."
That was part of 10 straight points for Irving before finding Brown for a layup that made it 105-103 with 2:32 left in overtime.
Brown stretched the lead to five when he hit a contested baseline 3-pointer less than a minute later, and the Wizards missed their last five shots.
Celtics: Signed and activated free agent C Greg Monroe, but did not make a trade at the NBA trade deadline. ... Coach Brad Stevens wasn't surprised. "It was probably the least amount of time that I was paying attention to it or on the phone over these days in five years," he said. ... Monroe was one of three Celtics players to receive a technical foul in separate incidents, along with F Marcus Morris and G Terry Rozier
Wizards: Traded G/F Sheldon Mac to the Atlanta Hawks for a 2019 second-round pick in a move coach Scott Brooks said gave Washington the flexibility to sign one or two players. "We're definitely looking," Brooks said. ... Mac (torn Achilles), who was then waived by Atlanta, has not played this season. ... F Kelly Oubre received a technical foul in the fourth quarter.
NOT TAKING THE BAIT
Although the Wizards won their first five games after losing G John Wall to knee surgery, Brooks denied the notion his absence has been a positive.
"He knows how I feel about him," Brooks said. "He knows how the organization, his teammates feel about him. And for anyone to think that we're not better with John, that's for clickbait."
ALMOST LOUISIANA'S MONROE
After reaching a buyout agreement with Phoenix, Louisiana native Monroe said he also considered signing with the New Orleans Pelicans after they lost C DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles in January. "They obviously had a need there at my position," Monroe said. "It's home for me. So it was definitely a tough decision. But it was hard to resist here."
Celtics: Play Indiana on Friday night in the first of three at home.
Wizards: Begin a three-game road stint Saturday night at Chicago.