Instant analysis: Wizards 91, Pacers 78

Instant analysis: Wizards 91, Pacers 78
March 28, 2014, 9:30 pm
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Just like when the Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs came to Verizon Center this season, the Wizards put on a performance to give the near-sellout crowd of 19,708 hope Friday night.

The Wizards (37-35) dominated the East's best team in the Indiana Pacers to end a two-game losing streak behind a spirited defensive effort. In the first two meetings this season, both played in Indiana, the Wizards were held to 73 and 66 points. The latter was their lowest total points for a game in a decade.

This time, the Pacers (52-21) never led. John Wall orchestrated the perfect floor game, distributing the ball to get everyone involved and spearheading an effort defensively to force seven first-quarter turnovers for a team that only averaged 15 per game. The Pacers ended with 17 that led to 21 points for the Wizards. 

Wall finished with 20 points, eight assists and two steals. Four other players scored in double figures for Washington, with Marcin Gortat at 17 points and 12 rebounds, Trevor Ariza 11 points and Al Harrington and Martell Webster coming off the bench to add 12 and 11.

The Wizards only led 24-21 after the first quarter, but a 17-4 run in the second created a 41-25 lead. And they were able to pull away despite Ariza and Bradley Beal combining to shoot just 4-for-25. 

Ariza's defense, and the help he received from the likes of Gortat in the post, frustrated Paul George who was held to 19 points on 6-for-22 shooting to lead Indiana. 

Turning point: Ahead 57-51 in the third, the Wizards went on a 17-5 run -- nine points coming from Ariza -- to enter the fourth and it never got closer than 10 after that. 

Key stats: Washington only made 34 of 87 shots for 39%, but Indiana was held to 28-for-79, 35.4%, including 2-for-13 from three-point range. 

Wise guys: Harrington and Andre Miller were sparks off the bench, particularly in the first half. Harrington had 10 points in the second quarter when the Wizards made their game-changing run. In just seven minutes, Miller had five rebounds, an assists, a steal and a blocked shot. In the fourth, he tapped a missed shot that resulted in a three-pointer for Webster to stop a run. Drew Gooden wasn't effective for most of the game and had foul trouble, but when Indiana made a run late he made a mid-range jumper out of timeout to settle things down. That was his only field goal. 

Handcuffed: Pacers C Roy Hibbert was held to eight points on 3-for-8 shooting and only two rebounds. Hibbert didn't make his first field goal until 6:33 remained in the third quarter.  

From the locker room: "This is how you have to play for 48 minutes if you want to be a good team. They did tonight. We didn't shoot the ball very well. Trevor Ariza 2-for-12 and Bradley Beal 2-for-13, your two wing guys. We win by 13. ... This was a team win. Our bench came in and gave us a huge lift in the first half. And our bench ends up outscoring their bench, which is always important. Marcin, in the middle, protected the rim great. They had trouble scoring over him." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman. 

"We knew how big of a game this was for us and we hadn't been playing well the last six or seven games. Hopefully we understand the only way we can win games and finish out teams is playing defense. That's what we did. We made it tough on them throughout the whole game." -- Wall

"They protect the paint pretty well. They are a very aggressive and physical team. We tried to match that and we wanted to be just as physical or more physical with them and how they are with other players. Our bigs did that and we were successful." -- Ariza 

"We look vulnerable. We look like teams can just come at us." -- Pacers F David West

"We didn't play well enough to get a road win against a good basketball team, a very desperate basketball team. We knew they were going to come out with great energy. They did. ... Their energy was great. Coach Wittman had them prepared and they played a great defensive game." -- Pacers coach Frank Vogel

Up next: The Wizards won't practice Saturday because they have another game, vs. the Atlanta Hawks, at Verizon Center (CSN, 8 p.m. ET). 

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