Pacers Enter All-Star Break After Defeat to Wiz
After a treacherous schedule leading up to the All-Star Break, Al Jefferson and the Indiana Pacers look to be ready for some time off.
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Pacers fell 111-98 to the Washington Wizards. Big Al had a solid night, turning in 12 points and three rebounds off the bench, but overall, Indy just didn’t have the energy to capture the Eastern Conference victory.
“Tonight’s loss looked a little flat,”head coach Nate McMillan said. “Maybe we’re a little fatigued.”
Unlike the previous night against the Cavaliers when the Pacers were the early aggressors, it was the Wizards who jumped out to the early lead and went ahead 20-6 after 5:30 of play.
Indiana slowly climbed back, though. After setting a screen for Rodney Stuckey, Big Al got free against a defense now concerned with containing Stuckey and sank a jumper that cut the lead to six with 1:26 left in the quarter. The Pacers further chiseled the lead down to four but Otto Porter Jr.’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer to give the Wizards a 34-27 lead after one.
The Pacers continued to threaten the lead to open the second quarter. With 9:57 until the half, Al got a pass from Monta Ellis and drove through traffic for a layup that cut the lead to four. On the Pacers’ next possession, Ellis dribbled inside the 3-point line and found a soft spot in Washington’s defense, simply handing the ball off to Al, who sank the jumper and cut the lead to two.
It was a five-point game for the next three minutes, but a 10-0 spurt by the Wizards gave them a 55-40 lead with 4:03 until the half. Washington’s lead grew as high as 19 points, but the Pacers scored the last nine points of the half to make it a ten-point game going into the locker room.
Though the Pacers cut the lead to single digits early in the third quarter, they were unable to get closer than seven, and Washington took a 13-point lead heading into the fourth.
Indiana opened the fourth on an 8-3 run that was punctuated by a complete collapse in the Wizards defense that allowed Al a dunk with no one in the paint to get the deficit back to 10. The Pacers cut the lead to seven with 6:48 and eight with 5:13 to play, but Washington continued to make shots and Indiana got no closer the rest of the way.
The Pacers get a welcome break and will not play until February 24th against the Memphis Grizzlies.