WASHINGTON -- After the final buzzer sounded and Game 7 was ensured, John Wall leaped on the scorer's table at the Verizon Center and exulted. Wall's arms waved wildly at the frenzied crowd in front of him, then he tugged hard on his jersey before leaping down to join the mob of teammates waiting for him.
Wall hit a pull-up 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds remaining as the Washington Wizards emerged with a 92-91 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Friday night.
The Celtics and Wizards are tied at 3-3 in this best-of-seven series. Game 7 is Monday night at TD Garden.
"To get on the scorer's table, it was for how much love I have for this city, how much love I have for my teammates, how much fight we have," Wall said. "Never quitting. A lot of people doubted us in this series after going down 2-0. A lot of guys doubted us winning this game at home. The last two years we were in the playoffs, we lost Game 6 here and we just had a lot of heart.
"I wanted the city to know that we love them for all the support they give us."
Wall overcame a poor shooting performance (1-of-9 from the field in the first half, 9-of-25 overall) to hit the go-ahead shot over Celtics guard Avery Bradley, who had hounded him for much of the night.
Isaiah Thomas, who scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, missed an off-balance 3-point heave at the buzzer with a chance to win the game. The Wizards fouled on Boston's initial attempt at a final play, leaving just 1.7 seconds on the clock, though video replays suggest they probably should have had additional time.
Thomas didn't make excuses after the miss.
"I thought it was going in. Honestly, I did," Thomas said. "It was a tough shot, they had a couple guys on me, but that was the only shot we could have got there."
The Celtics were up five with little more than a minute to play when a video review overturned a blocking foul on Marcus Smart, making it a charge and giving the ball to Boston. Thomas turned the ball over on the next possession and Bradley Beal (game-high 33 points) hit a 3-pointer. Wall added two free throws soon after to tie the score.
Al Horford banked in a 16-foot jumper with 7.7 seconds to play to snap an 89-89 tie, but it only set up Wall's heroics.
"The last play was really for me to get to the corner and Brad [Beal] come open," Wall said. "He didn't get the opportunity to get open and I didn't want to get a five-second violation. So I came and got the ball from Otto [Porter Jr.] and looked the defender in the eye and took a shot I work on, and it went in."
Said Bradley: "He just made a big play for their team. He's been doing it all year for them. It's unfortunate for us, but he made a great shot."
Celtics forward Jae Crowder said Boston could live with giving up that look and credited Wall for making the tough shot.
"I think Avery's heels were on the 3-point line," Crowder said. "He was a couple feet behind the 3-point line. We got a contest and he still was able to hit it. So you have to take your hat off to that. We did everything we wanted at that time and score of the game. We want to contest all shots and you have to live with that."
In a series in which the home team has won every game -- not just in the postseason but the regular season as well -- the Celtics will look to hold serve one final time with a trip to the Eastern Conference finals hanging in the balance.
Thomas and the Celtics let a chance to close the series slip away Friday night.
Thomas can lean on advice offered by Paul Pierce earlier in this series. Pierce explained how hard it is to win in the playoffs and that the best players grind through adversity. Now Thomas and the Celtics' resiliency will truly be tested.
"Paul Pierce reached out to me the other day and he told me that winning is hard," Thomas said. "You gotta take your bumps and bruises as they go. But if winning wasn't hard it would be everybody. I took that to heart. I feel like that's so true.
"If [winning] was easy, it would be for everybody and it's not. You just gotta keep going."
The Celtics showed up for Friday's game in all black, mimicking a ploy the Wizards used for a mid-January regular-season matchup. Boston players pleaded ignorance on the fashion statement before Friday's game, but the significance was obvious: This was a chance to bury the Wizards, a team the Celtics beefed with throughout the 2016-17 season.
Now it comes down to Game 7 and it's another chance for someone to be a hero, like Wall was in Game 6.
"That's where all the great players make their name," Thomas said. "You gotta give it everything you've got. I guess that's where legends are born. I'm excited. We couldn't take care of business tonight, an unbelievable shot by John Wall.
"To have Game 7 back in Boston in the Garden. If you had said that back in October, that there'd be a Game 7 in the second round, a lot of people probably wouldn't even believe that. So we're excited. I mean, it hurts right now because we just lost. We have nothing to hold our heads down about, we're going to take a few days to figure out our adjustments and win Game 7."