A quick start from the Washington Wizards put the Indiana Pacers in the rearview mirror all night, as the Pacers extend their season long losing streak to six games. The Wizards started hot from three point range, hitting six in the first five and a half minutes to build a 20-8 advantage.
The Pacers fell behind by 19 in the second half, but climbed back in the game with an 11-0 run. From that point, the Pacers could only tread water, never drawing close enough to threaten the Washington lead. As has been a trend in this losing streak, the Pacers outshot Washington through much of the game, but a brutal three point gap once again played the difference on the scoreboard.
The Wizards hit 15 three pointers to just four for Indiana, with the Pacers offsetting a 50% shooting night with 22% from three point range. Defense has been an issue through this losing streak, but defense instantly looks a lot better when teams aren’t averaging 14 three pointers a night. Tonight’s 15 allowed isn’t even in the top three of this losing streak.
Otto Porter, Jr. led the way for Washington with six three pointers, scoring a game high 25 points. Porter hit five of those in the first quarter alone, setting a tone for the Wizards to come through with big shots all night, with all five starters reaching double figures and keeping every Indiana comeback at bay.
While Indiana has lacked attentiveness in closing out on shooters all season, it’s been a big concern with Thaddeus Young out of the lineup. There’s still no clear timetable on his return, but with the All-Star break now upon the Pacers, the extra week of not having to take on any losses will hopefully bode well for Indiana.
The break is much needed for Indiana as a whole. Myles Turner led the way for the Pacers with 17 points and nine rebounds, providing the best energy on the team, but guys around him are struggling more than he has recently. Paul George scored a difficult 17, going 6-19 and 1-7 from three point range, and Jeff Teague only scored six. Glenn Robinson III did reach double figures with 10 points.
The bench was unable to close the gap, but did get double figure nights from both Rodney Stuckey and Al Jefferson, who scored 12 apiece. Stuckey led the way for the Pacers from three point range, hitting a pair, once again outlining Indiana’s need for shooting. Washington provided three players with at least three made three pointers.
It’s a difficult league to win in when you’re trading 2’s for 3’s and aren’t making up that advantage in other areas, such as turnovers, where both teams had 11, but Pacers still got outscored 20-13 in points off turnovers, fast break (Washington 10-4), or free throw shooting (Indiana 14-10).
At 29-28, the Pacers are one loss away from returning to .500, sitting just 1 1⁄2 games up on the Chicago Bulls in 6th. This game may have been the last game of the Pacers in their current state, however, as the next time Indiana takes the floor will the day following the trade deadline against the Memphis Grizzlies on February 24.
In the meantime, however, the Pacers will be involved in a busy All-Star Weekend, kicking off tomorrow night with the Rising Stars Challenge featuring Myles Turner. On Saturday, Glenn Robinson III will cap All-Star Saturday Night in the dunk contest, and Paul George will play off the bench for the Eastern Conference All-Stars on Sunday.