On Friday, the Washington Wizards' gritty defensive effort sent
George and company crashing back to Earth.
Guard John Wall scored 20 points and center Marcin Gortat had 17
points and 12 rebounds as the Washington Wizards picked up a rare
victory over the Indiana Pacers, winning 91-78 on Friday night.
Forward Al Harrington had 12 points for the Wizards (37-35), who had
lost two straight and four of five overall. Washington never trailed
and opened double-digit leads in both halves, including 77-56 midway
through the second half.
George scored 19 points on 6-of-22 shooting from the field for the
Pacers (52-21). Indiana committed 17 turnovers and shot 35.4 percent
from the floor en route losing its season-high fourth straight road
Combined with the Miami Heat's win at the Detroit Pistons on Friday,
the Pacers' lead in the East was reduced to two games.
The rugged Pacers dominated the first two meetings against the
Wizards, winning both at home. Washington turned the physical tables
in the series finale.
"I thought they were great looks, every last one of them," George
said of his 22 shots.
Indiana's top scorer was unhappy he did not receive enough calls
from the referees along the way.
"I don't know if they were all clean. It's just crazy," said George,
who battled Miami's LeBron James in Wednesday's win and Washington
forward Trevor Ariza in Friday's setback. "We played against a team
the other night where if you breathe on the guy you know he went to
the line. I'm not saying I'm that caliber player, but it's just
Frustrating is a good way to describe Washington's recent history
against Indiana. The Wizards had lost 11 of 12 to the Pacers dating
to 2008, including two matchups this season by a combined 47 points.
"They kind of did whatever they wanted to at home," Wizards guard
Bradley Beal said. "Once we got them here, we did a great job of
just hitting them first and we kept hitting throughout the whole
game. You can definitely say we won that battle."
After scoring in the 70s one time in their opening 69 games, the
Pacers have done so in three of four games. They struggled for space
inside with the 6-foot-11 Gortat protecting the rim.
"Gortat is probably the defensive player of the year," George said.
"You couldn't get nothing."
That was not the case of late for opponent against the Wizards, who
returned home on Wednesday after a 1-3 road trip and promptly fell
behind by 25 points to the Phoenix Suns before losing 99-93. That
struggling version rarely showed against the East's top team.
[to top of second column]
The Wizards led 44-37 at halftime and 57-51 before closing the third
quarter on a 17-5 run. Forward Martell Webster opened the fourth
quarter with a 3-pointer to give Washington its largest lead before
the crowd of 19,708.
After Indiana pulled closer at 84-74, Washington scored the next
seven points, five from Wall.
Forward Lance Stephenson, ejected in Indiana's 84-83 win over Miami,
scored 13 points and tied a career high with 14 rebounds. He also
missed all nine of his shots from the field in the first half and
finished 3 of 13.
Harrington alone outscored Indiana 10-0 early in the second quarter
as the Wizards jumped ahead 41-25. The Pacers then countered with a
12-0 spurt before Webster, who finished with 11 points, ended the
first-half scoring with a 3-pointer.
Beal, who suffered a right hip pointer in Wednesday's loss, had
seven points on 2-of-13 shooting from the field in 35 minutes. Ariza
added 11 points, but also missed 10 of 12 shots.
On other nights, the Wizards would not overcome such errant
shooting. On this one they did.
"This is how you have to play for 48 minutes — if you want to be a
good team. They did tonight," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of
his squad. "We did it defensively."
NOTES: Wizards F Trevor Ariza added 11 points, but also missed 10 of
12 shots. ... The Wizards entered Friday's game in sixth place in
the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games behind the Brooklyn Nets and 1
1/2 games ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats. ... The Pacers remain on
the road with Sunday afternoon's matchup at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Washington hosts Southeast Division opponent Atlanta on Saturday.
Six of the Wizards' final 10 games are at the Verizon Center. The
Pacers will play five of their final nine games on the road.
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.