Touching John Wall on the nose is a good way to start a fight

Scuffles between NBA players and teams usually start for two reasons. First, a hard foul (or series of them) allows tensions to boil over and into a physical altercation. Second, repeated trash talk goes too far, and the anger explodes into something more.

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Another good way to start a fight is by booping the opponent’s best player on the nose.

Let’s check out an alternate angle to get the full force of the moment:

Yes, that’s Boston Celtics wing Jae Crowder putting his finger in the face and on the nose of Washington Wizards point guard John Wall. This moment occurred seconds after the Celtics finished up their 117-108 win over the Wizards. It started with a verbal squabble between the two players and turned into something more once Crowder made his move. The scene never turned into anything like a brawl, but both sides were clearly upset as Wizards guard Bradley Beal, Celtics guard Marcus Smart, and others got involved. Take a look:

Things didn’t end on the court. According to reporters on the scene, players from both sides continued to express their dissatisfaction in and around the locker rooms.

Wall, for his part, says he didn’t do anythign to provoke Crowder:

“Yeah. I was just standing there — just standing there,” he said. “I had just said, ‘What up?’ to [Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas] and then I was walking back toward my locker room.”

That doesn’t seem quite right — Wall seems to turn to Crowder directly and at least escalates the conversation. Based on other accounts, it appears that the altercation may have been inspired in part by what Washington saw as physical play from the Celtics throughout the game. Wing Otto Porter didn’t mince words post-game:

Thomas rejected that take:

Whatever went down, it continues a recent run of spats between the Celtics and Wizards. Crowder had some words for erstwhile Wizards head coach Randy Wittmann last season, and Wall committed a flagrant foul on Smart this November. Expect more bad blood when they next meet in D.C. on January 24.

Wall would seem much more likely to end that night in a better mood, if only because he can’t shoot as badly as he did on Wednesday. The Wizards star followed up Tuesday’s game-winning, monster-awakening performance against the Chicago Bulls with nine points on horrendous 4-of-21 shooting from the field and just four free throw attempts. Wall did have nine assists, but he was badly out-played by Thomas, who had a game-high 38 on 14-of-29 shooting.

Worse yet, Wall had to deal with existing wrist and pinky injuries that required x-rays (negative) after the game and a pending MRI.

It’s a decent bet that Wall also struggled with his shot in part because he played 39 minutes just a day after logging 40 at the Verizon Center vs. Chicago. For that matter, he couldn’t rely on any help from the Wizards nonexistent depth. Scott Brooks played just nine players in both games and relied on all five of his starters for at least 32 minutes against Boston. The Wizards still hold the East’s final playoff spot at 19-19, but that weak bench figures to be an issue as the schedule drags on through winter and into spring.

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On the bright side, a nose-booping is a rare occurrence on an NBA court. There will be more losses in Washington’s future, but few should end as insultingly as this one.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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