Indiana 93, Washington 73, Game 16 of 82

  • Ralph Thompson Jr
Photo Credit: washingtontimes.com

Photo Credit: washingtontimes.com

The clichés are all too familiar. “It’s just one game”. “The young, upstart team has to endure a loss like this to see the focus it takes to become a contender”. “Shots just didn’t fall”. All these things were true on Friday night in Indianapolis. The Pacers were relentless and determined. The Wizards had energy and effort, but the hosts’ consistency was too much.

Washington (7-9) was missing Nene (sore right Achilles), in addition to Bradley Beal (stress injury, right fibula), Al Harrington (right knee) and Otto Porter (right hip flexor). Indiana (15-1) is tough enough without their opponent missing two starters. Paul George scored 23, and Lance Stephenson did a little bit of everything on both ends, to lead Indiana to a 20-point victory.

Washington led 10-6 early in the first period, behind Trevor Ariza’s 5 points. Even though many Wizards’ shots rimmed out, the team looked as if they were ready to match up with the Pacers. Ariza’s points 6 & 7 gave Washington a 12-11 lead, 6:41 left in the quarter. Indiana promptly went on a 17-2 run to close the quarter, Indiana 28-14 at the end of one.

The rest of the game was Indiana showing their strengths. They hold teams to sub-par shooting (38.6% opponents’ shooting percentage, first in the Association). They rebound (6th in the league in defensive rebounding, 9th in total rebounding). They share the ball (five different guys average at least 2 assists per game, but none average over 5 assists). Each of the five starters has at least a 1.5 Win Share apiece so far. Eight guys average 15 minutes or more of playing time per game. They’re deep. They’re unselfish. Indiana led 43-36 at the end of first half, but the deficit seemed larger.

In the second half, the Pacers continued their relentless effort. Roy Hibbert got 10 points in the third quarter. C.J. Watson got 5 points in the fourth. The Pacers led by as many as 25 (91-66, 2:40 remaining in the fourth), before they turned down the intensity.

Photo Credit: alloverthehill.com

Photo Credit: alloverthehill.com

To their credit, the Wizards didn’t panic. They competed throughout. For Washington, it’s best to turn the page and get ready for the next game.

Washington shot 40.3% from the field, and tallied 37 rebounds, 16 assists on 29 baskets, 5 steals, 17 turnovers and 10 blocked shots. Due to the nature of the deficit, many reserves got playing time. Marcin Gortat played well against Roy Hibbert, scoring 17 and grabbing 10 rebounds. Trevor Ariza added 15, and Kevin Seraphin added 9 while showing some nifty moves in the post. John Wall had 8 points and 9 assists.

Indiana shot 44.2% from the floor, and totaled 49 rebounds (15 offensive), 27 assists on 38 baskets, 12 steals, 15 turnovers and 1 blocked shot. George led the Pacers with 23 points, and contributed 4 rebounds and 4 steals. George Hill and Hibbert added 13 points each. Stephenson added 7 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 turnovers. He had a couple of fancy behind-the-back passes for assists that brought the Pacers’ fans to their feet. He’s an up-and-coming star.

Next up for Washington is a Saturday home match-up against the new-look Atlanta Hawks (9-8), who won Friday night at Dallas. Atlanta is presently third in the Eastern Conference. Saturday’s game is the first of a four-game home stand, followed by Orlando (Monday, 2 December), Milwaukee (Friday, 6 December) and Denver (Monday, 9 December). None of the teams are pushovers, but Washington needs to defend home court to keep recently-earned momentum.

 

 

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Ralph Thompson Jr

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