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John Wall brought DC and the Wizards back to life

For one night, John Wall flipped the script for DC sports.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — This isn’t how the semi-annual Biggest Game In The Sad Recent History Of Washington D.C. Sports is supposed to end.

It’s supposed to end with The Team That’ll Finally End Our Suffering firing blanks against their biggest rivals — again. It’s supposed to end with last-ditch miracles from Imported Cult Hero We’ve Come To Adore that of course slide off the fingertips a tenth of a second too late. It’s supposed to end with That Kind Of Misfortune Only Happens In D.C. Sports, followed quickly by They Looked Shell Shocked, Flickering Moment Of Hope We Know Will Fade, and eventually Yup It Faded.

It’s supposed to end with backbreakers from Rival Of Our Beloved Stud. It’s supposed to end with game-sealing plays from The One That Got Away or That Annoying Motherfucker Who Always Seems To Kill Us.

But this was a team that was never supposed to have the season it did. It’s only fitting that it was the one that flipped the usual script.

Game 6 actually ended on a botched play rescued by a ballsy shot. John Wall cut to the right corner, clearing space for Marcin Gortat to spring Bradley Beal with a screen going to the top of the key. Beal was supposed to come off that screen and have a good look going to his right. But Marcus Smart wedged himself between Beal and Gortat, throwing off the timing of the play.

“The last play was for me to get to the corner and for Brad to get open, but he didn’t get the opportunity to get open and I didn’t want to get a five-second violation,” Wall said. “So I came and just got the ball.”

As he turned 35 feet from the basket, he saw feisty Avery Bradley staring him in the face. Wall took one dribble and Bradley backpedalled twice, conceding the very shot that opponents have dared Wall to take his entire life.

Six years ago, Wall attempted 42 three-pointers all season and made three. All those pregame sessions with Sam Cassell to hone a jump shot that would make or break his career were failing to bear fruit. But Wall persisted over the years, and while nobody would call him a perimeter marksman, he’s at least hit 35 percent from deep two of the last four years and 37.5 percent in these playoffs.

So Wall let it fly. It wasn’t supposed to go in. It did.

Seconds later, Wall used his amazing recall to rearrange his teammates to stop a Celtics backdoor lob play that got them two years prior. Seconds after that, Isaiah Thomas’ last-ditch effort fell long. And several seconds after that, Wall raced to the baseline, sprinted across the court, and leaped onto the scorer’s table to pay tribute to the city that’s watched him endure years of struggle.

“It was how much love I have for this city, how much love I have for my teammates,” Wall said. “How much fight we have.”

Game 6 actually ended with the D.C. opponent walking away with its tail between its legs, for a change. In an obvious nod to the Wizards’ Funeral Game charade from the regular season, Celtics players strolled through Verizon Center halls in all-black attire. Bradley and Thomas claimed it was a coincidence when asked before and after the game, but the Wizards sure noticed.

“They’re just trying to be like us, man. They wanna be like us so bad,” Markieff Morris said after the game. “They can’t. There’s only one Death Row D.C. They can’t do it like we do it.”

John Wall with the after his game-winner

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These are the kind of stunts that are supposed to bite D.C. sports teams in the ass, but never their opponents.

For a time, it was supposed to be that way again. Fueled by the strength of their defense, the Celtics rebounded from a frigid shooting start to surge into the lead in the third quarter. Wall labored through a 1-for-12 shooting start, bringing back memories of meek Game 6 performances in 2014 and 2015.

“I’ll go 1-for-30,” Wall said when asked about how he reflected on his poor start. “That’s the right way to go out.”

That still wasn’t supposed to matter when Mr. Fourth Quarter drained two jumpers to give the Celtics a five-point lead. But instead of sealing the game on the next possession, Thomas walked right into a Wizards trap and coughed it up, leading to Beal’s first made three of the game. Then, Thomas dawdled too long and watched Wall deflect his shot, leading to a fast break and two game-tying free throws.

That set the stage for a trio of brilliantly executed plays -- two from the Celtics and one from the Wizards — that put the Celtics on the brink of a date with Cleveland. It then set the stage for a botched possession that was supposed to end the way all last-second plays end in this city, but somehow didn’t.

And that set the stage for a shot unseen in this town since its last basketball savior sunk the Bulls 12 years prior.

Now the Wizards head to a place they’re not supposed to be: one game from the Conference Finals. They’re not supposed to end this round with a win in Boston, because they haven’t won in Boston all season. They’re not supposed to go to the conference finals, because D.C. teams aren’t supposed to go to the conference finals, and especially not the professional basketball team that’s spent 40 years wandering in the NBA desert.

But sometimes things don’t end the way they’re supposed to end. Even in this town.