Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics won a physical Game 2 over the Washington Wizards 129-119 in overtime on Tuesday night, giving them a 2-0 lead in their second round playoff series.
"He's not human!" TNT announcer Ian Eagle exclaimed as Thomas hit one of his countless clutch fourth quarter shots. And for a stretch of the final period and overtime, it truly seemed he wasn't.
His performance was even more remarkable given that it came on what would have been the 23rd birthday of his sister, who was killed in a car crash just before the playoffs began. And it came after he spent more than 10 hours in dental surgery on Monday and Tuesday after losing a tooth in Game 1 on Sunday.
"The least I can do is go out there and play for her," Thomas said after scoring 53 points - the second-highest total in Celtics playoff history.
"I knew once game-time came, my guys would get me going, get me the energy to go out and win a game," Thomas said, ducking his face into his hands as he mentioned his sister, Chyna. "There was no way I was sitting out."
Thomas got some help from all-around contributor Al Horford, with 15 points. Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder also chipped in with 14 apiece.
The Celtics' start wasn't quite as bad as Game 1, when they fell behind 16-0 to start the game. But Boston's defensive stoppers - Bradley and Marcus Smart - did little to slow Wizards point guard John Wall in the first half.
The Celtics were able to whittle down the Wizards lead just before halftime, heading into the break down just 3 points.
After the half, though, the Wizards were able to extend their lead once more. But the Celtics kept battling, despite a hip injury that kept Bradley out for part of the second half.
The game turned into a shootout between Wall and Thomas in the fourth quarter. Wall would finish the game with 40 points.
Asked after the game if he had ever been in a one-on-one scoring battle like that against another point guard, Wall shook his head: "Nah," he said. "Nope. Nope. Nope."
In overtime, Thomas took control, scoring several big buckets to lead the way. He wound up with 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime alone.
"That's what Isaiah Thomas does, he's special," Bradley said after the game.
"It's unbelievable," said Horford.
"What else is there to say?" added head coach Brad Stevens. "There was a point today where he was not feeling good at all. He's had a tough day and I thought he was going to really have to gut this one out. Not only guts it out, he ends up with 50. Pretty impressive."
Game 3 is Thursday at 8 p.m. in Washington.