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Wizards' fourth quarter comeback falls short, 98-95
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Bradley Beal missed two game-tying shots in the final seconds, and the Wizards' fourth quarter comeback fell just short against the Pacers on Sunday night, 98-95.
Victor Oladipo scored 33 points to lead the Pacers, who led by 15 points entering the fourth quarter. Otto Porter Jr. scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds as well for the Wizards, who were playing without Kelly Oubre Jr. (sore foot) and of course John Wall.
The first half included big runs from both teams, with the Pacers opening up a 10-point first half lead. Oladipo scored 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting and made all six of his free throws to lead the pacers. Beal was held to only four points on 2-of-10 shooting and Porter had five points on 1-of-7 from the field. The Pacers' ability to lock down those two players made it difficult for the Wizards to get into a rhythm offensively. Morris' 10 points, all in the first quarter on 4-of-4 shooting, led the Wizards in the first half.
Indiana would shoot 52.8% from the field, 50.0% from deep, and made all 12 of their free throws in the first 24 minutes, while the Wizards were 38.6% from the field overall and 28.6% from deep respectively. Of note, the Pacers held the Wizards to only 2-of-11 shooting in the paint in the first quarter. If not for a 12-0 run in the second quarter, the Wizards would've trailed by much more than 55-45 going into the locker room.
The Pacers closed the third quarter up 80-65, and the game appeared over. However, the Wizards would begin the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run, roaring back. Fueled by their defense, the Wizards forced seven turnovers in the fourth quarter and would put themselves in position to win. With less than a minute left, Beal missed a layup with the Wizards down 96-95, then missed a triple down two, and another 3-pointer down three. All were great looks, but just didn't go down.
Beal finished with 22 points and a career-high 11 assists, his first career point-assist double-double. In 42-plus minutes, the first-time All-Star struggled from the field, finishing 8-of-27 overall and 2-of-9 from deep. He played the entire second half, taking on a tough task in guarding Oladipo throughout the game.
"We just got to keep looking for good shots, and he's going to continue to put himself in those positions," Scott Brooks said of Beal. "This team's going to continue to trust him and his coach is going to continue to trust him making those decisions and those positions that he's in. He's going to have to keep working through it all.”
Turnovers were a key heading into the game, an issue for both teams throughout. Washington turned it over 15 times for 20 Indiana points, while the Pacers turned it over 16 times for 17 Wizards points. Beal had two huge turnovers in the last few minutes with the Wizards only down one possession.
"Just the combination of our turnovers and got some good looks that didn't drop for us," Brooks said postgame. "We fought back. It's tough to come down--get down--17 points but we did. We came back and had a chance to tie it with 10 seconds, actually have a chance to go up one with 18 seconds with Brad [Beal]'s layup. A couple of tough breaks didn't go our way but we fought back and we gave ourselves a chance to send it into overtime.”
With the loss, the Wizards could fall as low as the No. 6 seed with a win by the Sixers. The Pacers tied the season series at 1-1, with the winner and tiebreaker edge decided on March 17 in D.C.
“It’s disappointing, but the year is not over," Beal said postgame. "We still got games left. We can still make that run. We still got an opportunity to be two and jump those teams. We gotta take advantage of our schedule. Tuesday is definitely a must win for us, that’s another hungry team coming in here, so we gotta be ready to go.”
The Wizards have lost three in a row for the first time this season. They will look to end that losing streak on Tuesday against the Heat at 7pm.