Wednesday. April 4 at Washington
Game Rewind: Pacers 109, Wizards 96
With the finish line in sight, the Pacers are picking up speed.
Blowing open a close game in a 34-15 second-half burst that was initiated by the starters and finished by the bench, the Pacers rolled to their third straight win, 109-96 over Washington Wednesday at the Verizon Center.
The Wizards led 61-60 in the third quarter but the defense buckled down, the offense stayed hot and the Pacers took control.
Indiana improved to 33-21 overall -- 12 games over .500 for the first time since the 2003-04 season -- 16-14 on the road and moved one full game ahead of Orlando in the race for third place in the Eastern Conference. Washington dropped to 12-42 overall, 10-27 under interim coach Randy Wittman.
BY THE NUMBERS
Danny Granger scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, his third straight game of at least 20, and fifth in seven games. He added five rebounds and did not play in the fourth quarter. Darren Collison had a big night with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, adding 11 assists for his third double-double. Leandro Barbosa scored 14 points in 15 minutes off the bench, and Tyler Hansbrough added 14. Roy Hibbert scored 13 on 6-of-8 shooting in 20 minutes, blocking four shots. The Pacers topped 100 points for the fourth consecutive game and had season highs in shooting percentage (.579) and assists (27).
Jordan Crawford scored 28 on 11-of-22 shooting, including 5-of-9 from the 3-point line, to lead the Wizards. Kevin Seraphin scored a career-high 19 points with 10 rebounds. John Wall had 13 points and three assists but shot 4-of-15, and Brian Cook had 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Washington shot 46 percent.
"(Tuesday) night we had to win a game by changing our lineup. We've had games where we've had to grind it out on the defensive end and tonight I thought we won the game with our offensive execution. I thought we took their spirit from them by simply executing and making the extra pass and as a result of our passing and execution we shot such a high percentage, that's what broke the game open for us. It's indicative of a good team when you can win in a variety of different ways." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
"(Collison) was terrific. The kid has tremendous will and desire to compete and to win. He played a strong defensive game but he set the tone with his offensive game -- 11 assists, seven-for-eight from the field, really got all of our starters involved. Our starters shot 29-for-41, 70 percent for the game and a lot of that was D.C. getting everybody going." - Vogel
"I just think (the Wizards) are depleted. They have injuries and they have youth and it's tough to win in the NBA in situations like that. We've got a veteran group that's dialed in to a tight playoff race so it's just a tough matchup." - Vogel
"This game was important. The Wizards are a good team, they've been playing very well and we wanted to make sure we got this win and didn't let this one slip. We came out aggressive and everybody played well," - Collison
"This team could be really good but we've got to continue to stay focused. Any loss or any dropoff and we could go back in the standings. We're happy where we're at right now and we want to continue to improve." - Collison
STAT OF THE GAME
After scoring 40 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Knicks Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers scored 37 in the first quarter against the Wizards -- giving them the astonishing total of 77 points in 24 minutes. Indiana shot 14 of 16 from the field, 88 percent, in the opening period Wednesday.
After an up-and-down first half, the Pacers trailed 61-60 early in the third period as the Wizards got big games outside from Crawford and inside from Seraphin. But Granger and George got the Pacers started, combining for 12 points in a 16-6 run that put the Pacers in front 76-67 and set the Wizards on their heels. Collison, Hansbrough and Barbosa took it from there, combining for all of the points in a 18-6 run that extended Indiana's lead to 94-76 with 9:20 remaining, leaving Washington prone.
The Pacers couldn't have come out of the gate much hotter, hitting their first six shots and 14 of 16 in the first quarter. Had it not been for the individual heroics of Washington's Crawford, who made four 3-pointers in the period and scored 16, the game might've been over early. As it was, with Granger scoring 13 and Hibbert seven, the Pacers led 37-28 after one and 43-34 early in the second. But when the shots stopped falling, the Pacers fell victim to sloppy pick-and-roll defense and poor defensive rebounding as the Wizards scored eight in a row to cut it to 43-42. Indiana scored just 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting in the second quarter and led just 52-51 at the break.
Indiana's 37 first-quarter points were a season-high for the opening period. … Crawford picked up a technical foul midway through the second quarter for protesting a no-call. ... Nene missed his third straight game for the Wizards due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot. With Andray Blatche also out due to conditioning, that meant Seraphin started at center. The Wizards also missed power forward Trevor Booker, also with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, who was replaced in the lineup by rookie Jan Vesely. Veteran forward Rashard Lewis missed his 18th consecutive game with a sore left knee.
A big weekend awaits the Pacers, who host Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhhouse (7 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM). The Thunder swept the Pacers last season. After facing the Thunder, the Pacers host Boston Saturday night, a rare home back-to-back set.