Wizards try to find answers to the Pacers' paint dominance


If there was ever a night to point to a lone statistic as the reason for a loss, it was Wednesday. 

The Wizards were dominated in the paint in a 113-108 loss, a defeat that came down to the final few possessions and could’ve swung in either direction. And, naturally, the first place to point was what happened near the rim as the Pacers overcame a few statistical disadvantages to beat the Wizards.

“I give those guys credit, they’re dynamic, they attack, they play downhill,” coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “We’ve got to do a better job of walling off, allowing the guy to continuously get in our paint is a problem. Some of that was transition, of course, but that type of number, 74 points, you’re not going to win a lot of nights.”

The Wizards were outscored 74-36 in the paint, despite holding a slight edge in rebounding (52 to 51). The 74 points in the paint allowed was a season-worst. 

Tristan Thompson scored 17 points off the bench as the Pacers shot 54.2% (45-of-83) from the field. The Pacers attempted 52 shots in the paint and converted 37 of them, which allowed them to overcome a 4-for-20 performance from beyond the arc. 

Washington shot 45.9% from deep (17-of-37), but the deficit created in the paint by Indiana was too much to overcome even a stellar night from 3-point territory.

“It’s frustrating,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “We love to get stops. First thing is always protect the paint and I feel like this game kind of slacked up on that. First half they were almost scoring 63% in the paint, had 30 points. Not counting the ones that they missed and get to the free throw line. It was a little bit frustrating we couldn’t slow that down.”


There were, naturally, excuses for why the Wizards struggled so mightily at preventing easy baskets for the Pacers. 

The team did not have Daniel Gafford, Kristaps Porzingis or Rui Hachimura in the lineup, which allowed Troy Haliburton to drive the lane with ease for the duration of the night. Porzingis will not play Thursday against the Nets, though Gafford will return and Hachimura is questionable. 

“We’ve just got to do a better job with individual one-on-one defense,” Kyle Kuzma said.

“It boils down to all of us. There’s a point in time during the game everybody got beat once or twice. We’ve just got to take more ownership on that end of the floor.”