For the second time in four days, the Washington Wizards have downed the Indiana Pacers. By a score of 97-90, the Wizards edged the Pacers to pickup the back end of a back-to-back, after they lost for the first time in 5 games to the Toronto Raptors, 103-84.
The Wizards survived a dismal offensive night from veteran Paul Pierce, who shot 2-13, including 0-5 from behind the three point line. Luckily, seven of the Wizards’ other nine players who played last night made up for his struggles by shooting 50% or higher. Notably, John Wall had eighteen points and four assists, Kevin Seraphim had thirteen points off a 6-8 shooting night, and Nene had a seventeen point, five assist night.
On defense, the Wizards showcased how their youth and athleticism allows them to outplay other teams’ more traditional offenses. The Wizards combined for four blocked shots and eight steals. Four of those steals came from speedy John Wall.
It seems that the Pacers are still struggling to find their way after a disappointing end to their season and a number of cornerstone players from last year’s not being in their current lineup. During the offseason, the Pacers lost breakout shooting guard Lance Stephenson to free agency (signed with the Charlotte Hornets), Paul George to injury (broken leg), George Hill (knee contusion), and David West (sprained ankle). That’s four of five players from a starting lineup that was supposed to be the East’s answer to Lebron’s Miami Heat.
To add insult to injury (pun fully intended), after just eleven minutes into Saturday’s game, center Roy Hibbert knocked knees with teammate Solomon Hill and did not return to the game. Luckily for the Pacers, Hibbert’s status for Monday’s game has since been upgraded to ‘probable’, so it looks like he’s avoided a long-term injury. Solomon Hill did his best to make up for taking Hibbert out of the game, racking up twenty-eight points, six rebounds and three steals in 43 minutes of work while shooting over 50% from the field.
The Wizards exploded out of the gates, going into the second half with a 54-35 advantage, but went cold and let the Pacers back into the game late. I had mentioned turnovers as being a major concern for this young team and tonight showed us why, with John Wall and Nene combining for nine. If they can keep their turnovers down and keep winning the rebound battle (they beat the Pacers 49-38), this will be a very dangerous team come playoff time.