INDIANAPOLIS -- Amid all the hoopla over the Wizards taking Game 1, and with it home-court advantage for the second series in a row, is what Trevor Ariza accomplished. No, not going 6-for-6 on three-point shots, but his defense of Paul George who is the Indiana Pacers' best player.
George was a non-factor in scoring 18 points Monday, nine of which came from the foul line. He missed 13 of 17 shots. Ariza got the Wizards out to as much as a 16-point lead by making 7 of 10 shots for 22 points. He also had six rebounds, two assists and only committed three fouls.
"He's a huge part of their team. They go how he plays. We just try to make it tough for him, try not to let him get a rhythm," said Ariza, the Wizards' best one-on-one defender who had success vs. Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James this season, too.
The defensive rotations, particular from center Marcin Gortat, helped seal off the lane for Washington. The Pacers only scored 20 points in the paint which was their lowest output this season.
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"I thought Trevor did a good job against P.G.," Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal said. "That's a tough assignment. We did a great job of helping him."
Ariza was the go-to guy in the first series vs. the Chicago Bulls who were eliminated in five games. D.J. Augustin was scoring too easily and Ariza shut him down in the second half of Game 2. Ariza, playing with the flu, held Anthony to 10 points in a crucial regular-season with at the New York Knicks with playoff seeding on the line. And earlier in the season at Verizon Center, Ariza had flu-like symptoms and contained James in a blowout victory.
To put Ariza's defense on George into context: In seven playoff games, he was averaging three more points per game (24), four more rebounds (10.7) and shooting 46% from the field, four points above his regular-season totals.