It's the definition of a bad night when Indiana Pacers' loss to Oklahoma City was a better effort than they brought tonight against the Washington Wizards. Aside from a single stretch, the Pacers never really had anything tonight for the John Wall-led Washington squad, and a 20-point fourth quarter deficit about summed up Indiana's overall night, bricking their way through the second half, and getting no help for Roy Hibbert.
The Wizards blitzed out to a 26-12 lead, which isn't entirely surprising when looking at how drastically improved the Wizards have been in Wall's return, but aside from Indiana's 26-11 run to take the lead, they had nothing for Washington at any point tonight, and looked shell shocked that the Wizards weren't the same team they beat three times earlier in the season. The Pacers struggled offensively for a second straight now, but were even worse defensively, as Wall just carved up the Pacers, finishing the night with 37 points.
Roy Hibbert was one of the only bright spots for the Pacers, leading them with 25 points and 10 boards for a solid double double. Hibbert's play is great to see, but it's equally more annoying that Hibbert's ascension as an offensive threat has been met with a decline in just about every starter's play offensively. David West had a 12 & 10 double double, but was limited in his effectiveness, his 6-14 night unfortunately solid compared to the rest of the starters.
Paul George was simply not good tonight. A single defensive possession on Wall aside, George didn't show up at all, going 0-8 from the field for 2 points. Lance Stephenson had foul trouble to limit his play, but didn't do much when he was even in the game. George Hill shot just 4-12, failing to find any range on his shot, only getting success when slashing towards the basket. Gerald Green was the second best player for the Pacers tonight, scoring 13 off the bench on a 50% shooting night, but while he played well offensively, wasn't a beacon for consistency on the defensive end. As a whole, tonight was another particularly bad loss for the Pacers, not discounting the improvement of the Wizards under Wall, but due to how unfocused Indiana looked nearly the entire night.
Indiana had a decent night shooting going before the second half happened, hitting a trio of three pointers before blanking through the second half, finishing 3-19, shooting 40.7% overall. The Wizards dominated in the paint and dominated in fast break points, scoring 52 & 28 respectively, making it extremely difficult to keep the Wizards off the scoreboard.
A poor quarter is understandable against the Thunder, but three and half poor quarters against the Wizards is a little less forgivable. While this can (hopefully) be chalked up to the end of the season blues, it'd be much nicer if the Pacers were rounding into playoff form at this point rather than sighing. They'll drop two games back of the second seed with five to go, still holding a four game advantage over the fourth seed (with a magic number of three to avoid that slippage). The Pacers will tip off Tuseday at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers, looking to finally clinch the Central Division and wash away the bad taste of this entire back-to-back.
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