A new home winning streak is underway, after the Wizards had to hold off repeated attempts by the Indiana Pacers to win 112-107 on Friday night at Verizon Center in front of 19,503 fans.
John Wall produced his 33rd double-double (26 points, 14 assists) and Bradley Beal (20 points, four assists) struggled to get free of Paul George to generate offense. But Markieff Morris (season-high 26 points, 10 rebounds, three assists) exploited his advantage against Lavoy Allen to great success and Marcin Gortat (14 points, 16 rebounds) had his 31st double-double.
Paul George (31 points) led all scorers and was at times unstoppable for Indiana (29-24) which had won seven of eight games coming into Friday. Jeff Teague (13 points, nine assists) and Kevin Seraphin (16 points) contributed with three other players for Indiana in double figures at 10 points (Allen, Myles Turner, Rodney Stuckey).
The Wizards lost 140-135 in overtime on Monday to the Cleveland Cavaliers – they also had ended the Pacers’ seven-game win streak – to snap their 17 consecutive home wins at Verizon.
The Wizards (32-21) are now ahead 2-1 in the season series with Indiana with one more game remaining between them before the All-Star break on Feb. 16.
Indiana cut the deficit to 105-102 in the final minute but it was Wall driving past George, drawing the help, and finding Morris for a three-pointer for a six-point edge with 50.6 seconds left to seal it.
--Teague has hurt the Wizards by getting inside the defense and breaking them down in the paint. He had success doing that early with 11 points and five assists in the first half. He went to the free-throw line four times – more than Wall and Beal combined. He was held in check the rest of the way mostly because the Wizards opted to put size on him during key stretches with the length of Kelly Oubre and Tomas Satoransky. Teague scored just two points in the second half
-- Pacers coach Nate McMillan went with a big lineup with his second unit, playing Seraphin, a former Wizard, and center while Al Jefferson (six points) was at power forward. That’s when they made their move and pounded the Wizards’ second unit by isolating and using their size to their advantage and getting to their preferred spots to make shots. The Wizards failed to play with pace and move the ball frequently enough to force the plodding bigs to rotate and recover. They erased a seven-point deficit in the first quarter to take a 39-38 lead on Stuckey’s jumper. The Wizards re-inserted four starters and Indiana still continued its run to push the lead to 47-38.
--George defending Beal was a foregone conclusion. In the Pacers’ victory in their first meeting, Beal started 4-for-6 and appeared headed for a big night. He didn’t score in the second and third quarters and shot 3-for-13 after the first 12 minutes. George’s 6-7 frame, reach and ability to recover from screens and trail to take away three-point looks is a valuable asset for Indiana. Beal was 1-for-4 in the first half for seven points but did have three assists. The Wizards had to make them pay for using their best defender, which meant Porter and Morris knocking down open looks or beating 1-on-1 coverage.
--The help was so heavy towards Beal, the Wizards sometimes ran down the shot clock too far trying to get him the ball. That’s how they lost the lead in the third on Lavoy Allen’s shot to put Indiana head 72-70 at 5:39. After a timeout, the Wizards used Beal as a decoy to get Morris an open three and layups for Gortat when he was being fronted in the post (and no weakside help). They went into the fourth up 86-81 as a result.
-- The coverage by Indiana created lanes for that Gortat to get on the boards for tip-ins and tap outs. He converted a miss on a drive by Morris for a 103-98 lead but had an important contest of Teague at the rim in the final minute that allowed the Wizards to get the ball and get out to a three-possession lead with 37 seconds left.
--Porter was in foul trouble, picking up his fifth with 7:42 left in the game. Satoransky, not Oubre, replaced him. Satoransky’s stat line was modest (four points in 13 minutes) but it was his ball pressure and length that was effective. He contested a pull-up jumper from Monta Ellis (eight points) that was off to the right and forced Stuckey into a traveling violation.
--Ian Mahinmi played for the second game in a row but wasn’t as effective in spot duty in the first half. He had a layup on a nifty interior pass from Wall but mishandled it for a turnover. He did body up Jefferson to force a miss at the rim. He’ll be more of an asset defensively before he can provide much lift in terms of bench points. Plus he has to get used to the quick-hit passes from Wall when he draws the defense. Mahinmi did have a rotation in the fourth quarter that produced a turnover. His impact will be modest and sometimes understated.
--Trey Burke (seven points, five assists) was a spark early but fell into overdribbling which is why the second unit had difficulty keeping leads or closing the gap. He was 3-for-6 until the fourth quarter when he missed all three attempts.
--The Pacers shot 4-for-21 from three-point range, or 19%, a focus of the Wizards' defense since they allowed the Cavs to get loose on the perimeter. Morris ran out to contest a three by George late in the fourth and forced a miss. George was 2-for-6 from deep and C.J. Miles (three points) 1-for-5. They combined to shoot 15-for-17 from long range in a blowout of the Wizards here last season.