Fittingly, on the last play of the game, Mike Miller made a strong drive to the hoop but missed the layup. I may be off by a couple, but I think it was the 89th missed layup of the game for the Washington Wizards.
Or at least it seemed like it.
After the game, Jim O'Brien opened his press conference by saying, "We did what we had to do to win tonight." In other words they showed up.
The Pacers didn't play their best game of late, but showing up was about all it took for the Pacers to earn the 99-82 win. Please don't complain about the Pacers not tanking tonight either. That might not have been possible even if they tried.
Both teams looked like they were weary from playing the night before, but the Pacers were able to ride a hot hand from Danny Granger and make more than enough plays to beat the Wiz on this night.
The Pacers did hold the energy advantage thanks to Josh McRoberts. With Roy Hibbert out due to a elbow to the jaw on Tuesday in Detroit, McRoberts was given the start tonight. Since he DNP-CD'd in Detroit, there were no weary legs for 32 and he showed it from the opening tip, scoring 6 quick points and a few rebounds en route to a 14 point, 12 rebound double-double.
The game was highlighted by McRoberts dueling Washington's James Singleton. Maybe highlighted is a strong word, but Singleton seemed to get his hands on everything and he actually made a couple of put backs around the rim to finish with 19 points and 21 rebounds.
But in the end, Danny Granger's 31 points with 4 three-pointers put the Pacers out front for good.
A few more thoughts on this mess after the jump.
- The Pacers put up another win, their fourth in a row, to close within a half game of the Knicks. Philly also won, but Sacramento lost to the Nets which is almost like two losses. On the other side of the spectrum, the Pacers' tragic number (as Bruno would say) to officially eliminate them from thr playoffs remains at 2 since Toronto lost again.
- Andray Blatche must've made nice with coach Flip Saunders because after his very public benching last night, Blatche started for the Wiz tonight. The kid has talent and looked good at times while scoring 21. He also looked bad with a couple of befuddling passes and lots of complaining throughout when things weren't going his way.
- Blatche had a play that summed up the mess for the Wiz, too, when he appeared to be rising up for a top of the key jumper but then snapped a pass underneath to a teammate who had already turned to rebound the shot. As the ball sailed cleanly out of bounds, Flip Saunders head fell in his hands.
- Earl Boykins played quite a bit off the bench for the Wiz. The tiny PG made Earl Watson look like Magic Johnson bringing the ball up the court with his size advantage.
- Watson has things running well from the point, a big reason for the Pacers recent success. Tonight he finished with 10 points and 7 assists, but probably should've had double the assists if his teammates could've done their part to cash in the points.
- Aside from Granger, the Pacers came up ice cold from behind the arc, shooting just 6 of 28. Sans Granger thats 2 for 24. Brandon Rush cooled down from his torrid pace by missing all 6 of his long attempts.
- Troy Murphy had a few 3-attempts go in and out, but he made up for it on the glass by snaring 19 rebounds to go with his 12 points.
- A.J. Price had his minutes increase tonight, seeing some time alongside Watson which helped push him up to 22 minutes. He finished with 12 points and a couple of steals.
- Price along with a few other players on both teams took the brunt of the officials trying to get the game over with in the second half. You had to get mauled to get the call and in some cases even that wasn't enough.