Indy Outlasts Washington
Al Jefferson and the Indiana Pacers were outscored in the fourth quarter Monday night against the Washington Wizards but hung on thanks to the late heroics of Thaddeus Young to win 107-105.
The Wizards jumped out to a 12-1 lead to start the game, which led to Pacers head coach Nate McMillan calling a timeout with 9:18 left in the first to give his team a chance to regroup. The Pacers were able to fight back, but Washington’s 60.9 percent shooting carried them to a 36-29 lead at the end of the first.
Indy was able to find more consistency in the second quarter behind Big Al and the bench. No. 7 opened the second by scoring the Pacers’ first six points of the quarter. With 11:44 left in the quarter, Al ran a give-and-go with Aaron Brooks, who was able to get the ball to Al for a running jumper into the paint to open the second.
On the Pacers next possession with 11:00 left, Al was able to lose his man on a backdoor cut under the basket where Brooks found him again for an easy layup. With 10:33 left, Al found himself alone with the ball on the right elbow, and with the Wizards giving ground and not respecting his jumper, Al rose up and drained the long jump shot.
Big Al’s second quarter scoring was rounded out by one of the more acrobatic shots of the season. Off balance and falling toward the baseline, Al was able to maneuver enough room to flip the ball off the glass to give him eight of the Pacers’ first 11 points in the second.
No. 7 finished with 10 points in 15 minutes on 5-of-10 shooting along with two rebounds.
After Big Al and the bench got the Pacers within four points of the lead, the starters came back in and carried that success over, taking Indy’s first lead of the game at 49-47 with 3:46 left in the half. Washington fought back with a 6-0 run, though, and the teams went to the break tied at 57.
The Pacers were able to create a little bit of breathing room in the third behind Jeff Teague, who scored 11 points in the quarter to give Indy a nine-point advantage going into the fourth. Washington came right back by scoring the first nine points of the fourth to tie the game at 88. Indiana led 101-93 with 4:05 left in the game but the Wizards used a 12-4 run over the next 3:50 to tie the game at 105 with 15 seconds left in regulation.
That set the stage for Young’s final shot. The Pacers ran an inbound play out of a timeout that was designed to go to Paul George, but with George accounted for by Washington, the ball went to Young, and his running jumper through the lane swished through with 0.9 left on the game clock.
“They played pretty good defense on that possession, where they took the ball out of Paul’s hands,” Young said after the win. “I just (saw) that I had to flash to the ball, which we discussed in the huddle, and just made a play.”
Bradley Beal had shot to win the game on a corner three, but it was off the rim, giving the Pacers their second straight win.
The Pacers traveled to New York after the game, where they will play the Knicks on the second night of a back-to-back at Madison Square Garden. It will be the Pacers 10th game in 15 days. They are 5-5 over that span, but that includes wins in four of their last six games. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. EST.