Faced with having to defeat the Indiana Pacers or go home for the
summer, the Wizards responded with a powerful 102-79 victory that
sends the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals back to
Washington for Game 6 Thursday night.
The Pacers still lead the series 3-2, and they would host Game 7
Sunday if the Wizards win Game 6.
But the Wizards, led by center Marcin Gortat's 31 points and 16
rebounds, delivered a strong message at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"We played desperate," said Gortat, who tied a career high in
scoring and missed his rebounding career high by two. "That's all we
can do. We have no other choice."
"We still have an opportunity," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
"If we play our way, we can beat these guys."
They did Tuesday. Backed into a corner, the Wizards simply destroyed
the Pacers on the glass. Gortat led a rebounding attack that
resulted in 62 Washington boards, the most in the playoffs this
season. Four Washington players had more rebounds than the leading
Pacer, forward David West, who had six.
The Pacers made just 39 percent of their shots, trailed by 30 points
at one point and went down to their most lopsided playoff loss since
a 26-point beat-down by the New York Knicks in last year's Eastern
The Pacers missed 47 shots and had only four offensive rebounds.
Center Roy Hibbert had just two rebounds and four points. The
Wizards totaled 18 offensive rebounds, led by Gortat's seven, and
made 50 percent of their shots.
"Clearly, we didn't match their desperation and physicality
throughout the game," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said.
Washington guard John Wall scored 17 of his 27 points in the third
quarter, when the Wizards turned a seven-point halftime lead into a
24-point advantage as the quarter ended.
Guard Bradley Beal added 18 points and eight rebounds for
Washington. Forward Trevor Ariza finished with 10 points and 10
Washington forward Drew Gooden came off the bench to grab nine
West scored 17 points for Indiana, and forward Paul George added 15
but just one rebound.
Washington is attempting to reach the Eastern Conference finals for
the first time since 1979. The Wizards must win Thursday to extend
the series, but they lost their last two home games to the Pacers
"Quite honestly, we struggle at home," Gortat said. "I have a
feeling that we'll feel the pressure at home on Thursday."
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The Wizards went to Gortat early and often. After taking just 10
shots in his previous two games and scoring just three baskets,
Gortat scored the Wizards' first two baskets in the first two
minutes of the game Tuesday and had 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting
in the first half. Three baskets by Gortat helped fuel a 17-3 run by
Washington in the second quarter, leading to a 45-38 halftime edge.
"He played outstanding. He was energized," Wittman said.
By halftime, Gortat's 11 rebounds matched the entire Indiana team.
"They just played at a different level than we did all night," West
said. "It showed up on the glass. I don't know where we were
Wall's third-quarter surge helped the Wizards build their lead to 24
points. Wall hit six of eight shots in the period, including three
of four from beyond the 3-point arc.
"Ever since Game 4, I haven't talked to anybody," said Wall, who hit
4-of-11 shots in Washington's Game 4 loss Sunday. "I knew that I
haven't played well for this whole series. If we lost, I knew that I
would put it all on myself. Tonight God blessed me with the ability
to get over the hump."
NOTES: Entering Tuesday's game, the Indiana Pacers led the NBA by
allowing an average of just 89.6 points per game in the playoffs.
That included an average of 79 points scored by Washington in Games
2, 3 and 4 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. "We're OK with
games being ugly; we win games ugly in this style of play," Pacers
coach Frank Vogel said. "Certainly, to achieve our goals, we're
going to have to be efficient on the offensive end." ... Guard C.J.
Watson is the only Indiana bench player to score in every playoff
contest. ... In the first four minutes, Washington C Marcin Gortat
equaled his offensive output of the previous three games. He had
three baskets and a free throw. In Games 3 and 4, he scored a
combined seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. ... While the Wizards
won all three road games in their first-round playoff series against
the Chicago Bulls and two of three in Indianapolis during the second
round, they have lost three of four home playoff games at the
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