"Go for the win doesn't mean Roy go for the win," Vogel said
following Indiana's fourth straight loss. "But, you've got to play
the game. We did say in the timeout we wanted to go for the win. So
you let your basketball instincts play out."
Guard John Wall scored 31 points, including seven in overtime, as
the streaking Washington Wizards exacted revenge from last season's
playoff series loss to the Indiana Pacers with a 96-94 overtime
victory on Wednesday night.
The Wizards have won four straight and improved to 4-1 for the first
time since opening the 2005-06 campaign 5-1. Washington didn't reach
three games over .500 last season until March 1 with a 31-28 record.
Reaching that mark remained in doubt until the game's final
The Wizards made 21 of 23 free throws, but Wall could only split a
pair with 12.1 seconds remaining for a 96-94 lead.
Donald Sloan scored a career-high 31 points for the Pacers (1-4),
who had only 10 players available.
Coming out of a timeout, Vogel's plan involved his point guard
feeding forward Chris Copeland in the corner for a win-or-lose
Instead, Sloan's pass surprisingly wound up with Hibbert, who
floated outside after freeing Copeland with a pick. With the clock
winding down, the 7-footer launched his first 3-pointer of the
season and 21st of his seven-year career. It missed, just like his
six previous shot attempts from anywhere in the game.
"You've got to play the game. We did say in the timeout we wanted to
go for the win. So you let your basketball instincts play out,"
Copeland had 19 points and 12 rebounds. He rebounded Hibbert's miss,
but his putback attempt erred.
"I think I set a good screen to get Cope open," said Hibbert, who
had nine rebounds and five blocks, but only two points. "He was in
the corner of my eye and then all of a sudden I saw the ball come to
me. You have to shoot it. It's not my forte."
Winning at home wasn't exactly Washington's specialty last season,
especially during the playoffs, but they improved to 2-0 on the
young season. Guard Garrett Temple had 16 points and Wall added 10
assists for the Wizards. Center Marcin Gortat finished with 14
points and 10 rebounds.
"It wasn't the prettiest game. We made a lot of mistakes," Gortat
said. "I think we underestimated this team a little bit, but it's a
win and well take that."
The two sides met for the first time since the Pacers defeated the
Wizards 4-2 in the Eastern Conference semifinal round last season.
Indiana also took the regular-season series 2-1 and won all three
postseason games in Washington.
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Washington held a seemingly comfortable 12-point lead in the second
half following a 21-4 run, only to see the Pacers tie the game three
times in the final 4:07 minutes. Sloan's running layup made it 84-84
with six seconds remaining.
Wizards forward Paul Pierce scored 11 points, but missed 12 of 15
shots from the field, including a possible game-winning jumper at
the end of regulation.
"My teammates bailed me out," Pierce said. "John Wall came through
with a great game. We won this game defensively."
Hibbert's two free throws with 3:24 remaining in overtime gave the
Pacers their first lead since the first half at 88-87.
With his former University of Kentucky coach John Calipari in
attendance, Wall countered with a pull-up jumper and then scored two
additional baskets following Indiana turnovers for a 93-88 lead. The
All-Star point guard had one of his three steals in overtime.
"That's a great player making his imprint on the game," Vogel said
Indiana committed 19 turnovers, but outrebounded Washington 57-43.
Forward Solomon Hill also set a career high with 14 points.
NOTES: Washington outscored Indiana 14-4 over the final 5:19 of the
second quarter for a 46-41 halftime lead and led 61-49 in the third.
... The short-handed Pacers are closing in on signing free agent Gal
Mekel as their 16th player. The Dallas Mavericks recently released
the point guard and Indiana needs healthy bodies in the backcourt.
"Nothing is final," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of signing Mekel.
Vogel added that the native of Israel is the only player the team is
currently trying to sign. "We applied for the hardship exception and
received it (from the league)." Vogel said guard Rodney Stuckey
(sore left foot) will miss at least three games. ... The Pacers'
fourth loss last season didn't come until Dec. 16 in their 24th
game. ... The Wizards open a two-game trip Friday at the Toronto
Raptors before traveling to meet Indiana on Saturday. ... The Pacers
host the Boston Celtics on Friday.
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