Pacers Edged By Wizards in D.C.
It was another close game between the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards Wednesday night, but there were no late heroics this time for Al Jefferson and Co., and the Wizards emerged on top, 111-105.
Indy’s gameplan was disrupted early when Paul George was forced to sit due to foul trouble. Without George’s presence on offense and particularly on defense to help contain Bradley Beal and John Wall, Indiana found itself facing a 10-point deficit at halftime.
Down much of the third, George hit a 3-pointer with less than five minutes left in quarter to cut the lead to 71-68. The Wizards regained control behind Wall, who at one point scored 12 straight points, and entered the fourth with an 11-point lead.
It was a quiet night for Big Al, but he provided a highlight reel sequence in the fourth quarter. With 10:49 left in the game Al poked the ball loose from Kelly Oubre Jr. and then raced back the other way. After setting a screen for Aaron Brooks, he leaked out away from the defense for a long two. Al finished with five points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes.
Indiana began to chip away in the fourth against Washington’s bench. George hit a pair of free throws with six minutes remaining that cut the lead to five, but the Pacers missed a number of chances to further reduce the deficit. George, through whom the Pacers ran much of their offense, hit a three a couple of minutes later that brought them to 96-94. Indiana was unable to get over the hump in the final minutes with the teams trading shots on the next three possessions and Wall putting the game away with free throws.
Wall tormented the Pacers all night, scoring 36 points and finishing an assist shy of a triple-double. Indiana was beaten badly on the glass, losing the rebounding battle 54-34, including 15-5 on offensive rebounds.
“It’s something different every game,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. “There’s always one aspect that we can’t get over the hump that causes us to lose a game. Tonight, the rebounding killed us. John Wall made a lot of those long twos, and he was able to come in and control the game.”
The Pacers will look to bounce back against the Chicago Bulls on Friday afternoon in the Windy City. Indiana dropped their last meeting on Monday 90-85 but the season series is tied 1-1. Tipoff is an early one at 4 p.m. ET.