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Wizards out-pace Indiana in D.C., 107-89
A night after one of their most frustrating losses of the season in Cleveland, the Wizards used a quick turnaround – and finally returning home – to their advantage on Wednesday night in D.C. A small lineup shuffle proved effective as Washington (22-29) toppled the Pacers (32-18) in an impressive complete effort, 107-89.
“We competed," said head coach Scott Brooks. "We knew we didn't play as well as we needed to play on the road last night, but our guys have shown resolve all during the stretch, and we bounced back tonight. We played much better. We played tonight – you give yourself the chance to win when you play like you did tonight. Who knows, maybe the last seven or eight minutes sparked us from last night. The guys knew that they needed to play better, and they did. They responded. That's how we have to operate: just play hard every night.”
Jeff Green was shifted to the bench Wednesday as Otto Porter Jr. made a return to the starting five, and the veteran provided important instant offense. Green tallied 23 points to lead the bench, including 16 points in the first half. Porter later left the game with a sprained toe and didn’t return, scoring just three points in 11 minutes.
Indiana took a small lead early, but a 15-2 Washington run in the first quarter was the first sign of what turned into a dominant night for the Wizards. Bradley Beal scored nine of his game-high 25 points to lead the way, while Trevor Ariza (12 points on the night) also was a key factor in the first half.
Defense was the catalyst to the Wizards’ lopsided, as they turned 17 Indiana turnovers into 29 points on the night. The Pacers only tallied 45 points in the first half, allowing the Wizards to take a 14-point lead into the break. Their 89 points was just two shy of Washington's season-low for opponent scoring.
“It’s effort, just playing harder and realizing that it’s going to take all five guys to be bought in," said Beal. "The biggest thing is that we limited them to one shot as much as possible. We were able to get out and get going on offense.”
The Wizards picked up where they left off in the third, extending their lead to as many as 25 points before taking a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter. There, a 12-3 run to start the frame put the Wizards back up by 22 and helped them roll to a victory. For the game, the Wizards were efficient from the field, shooting 52.6% including a solid 42.9% from 3-point range.
Aside from Green and Beal’s leading nights in the scoring column, the Wizards scored by committee. Chasson Randle continued to shine in an increased role, scoring 13 points. Jordan McRae also logged heavier minutes in the rotation after a strong showing down the stretch in Cleveland, tallying 12 points in just over 26 minutes. Sam Dekker added eight points and a team-best nine rebounds, helping the Wizards to a 41-39 edge on the boards.
“[The bench] was great," said Beal. "They retaliated again. In order to make the playoffs, be in the playoffs, succeed in the playoffs, you have to have a good bench. You have to be able to trust those guys to go in and bring energy, get a lead or sustain a lead just as well as the starters will. They did a great job the last two nights of carrying us pretty much.”
Next, the Wizards will have an important two days off after playing five games over the past seven days. They’ll then stay home to take on the Bucks on Saturday night at Capital One Arena. Tip-off against Milwaukee is set for 7:00 P.M. ET.