Wizards fall apart late, near elimination vs. Pacers

Wizards fall apart late, near elimination vs. Pacers
May 11, 2014, 11:00 pm
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(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

Everything went the right way for the Wizards. The bench had its best game of the playoffs, they had a 19-point lead and control with a chance to even this semifinal series with the Indiana Pacers but they still didn't have the best player on the court at Verizon Center on Sunday.

Paul George scored 28 of his playoff career-high 39 points in the second half, finishing with 7 of 10 three-pointers, and Roy Hibbert came alive after a listless first half for a 95-92 victory to take a 3-1 series lead. The Pacers have won both road games and return home for a possible close-out Game 5 in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

After not having an impact as a unit for much of the playoffs, reserves Al Harrington, Drew Gooden and Andre Miller -- the "AARP group" -- set up the Wizards with a double-digit lead in the first half. The Wizards' starters, however, squandered it. The reserves returned to push the lead back to 85-76 midway through the fourth quarter but the Wizards couldn't convert down the stretch. 

Six players reached double-figures for Washington, led by Bradley Beal's 20, 16 from Trevor Ariza, 12 from John Wall, Harrington's 11, and 10 each by Nene and Gooden. 

Ariza and Nene failed to score in the fourth quarter. Marcin Gortat, who had just two points, didn't play the final 12 minutes. 

[RELATED: LIVE reaction from Washington's Game 4 loss]

Turning point: George scored 15 points in the fourth quarter. His two free throws with 2:24 left gave the Pacers the lead back. Wall made free throws to put the Wizards back up, but George responded with another pair and the Pacers never would trail again. In one stretch late in the fourth, George combined with Hibbert to score 18 consecutive points. 

Key stats: The Pacers had 10 made three-pointers, twice as many as the Wizards who are supposed to be the better shooting team. ... After scoring 18 points on fast breaks in the first half, the Wizards had zero in the second half. 

Turn around: Hibbert returned to his troubled self as he was dominated on both ends in the first half. He had his shot blocked three times in the first half alone but came alive in third quarter to finish with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting and nine rebounds. When he began to play better, so did Indiana. 

Quick starter: Ariza has been deadly in first quarters. He scored 10 in this one by going 4-for-4, including two three-pointers. For the series in the opening stanza, Ariza is 12-for-15 from the field and has made 7 of 8 three-pointers for 33 total points. 

From the locker room: "We didn't come out with any intensity the third quarter from a defensive standpoint and we've been outscored every game in the four games in the third quarter by this team. We just don't have the same energy right when we come out. And we allowed them to get going. And then George got going." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman

"I've been as aggressive as I can be, just trying to pick and choose my times. You give credit to their team. They don't go to the offensive boards like they usually do. They usually have Paul George crashing. For this series, they're all running back to the paint." -- Wall

"They kept getting stops and chipping away at that lead and eventually took the lead. I don't know if we ran out of games or what-not, but we didn't have the same confidence, swagger to try to increase the lead, or gain the lead back." -- Gooden 

"I want to credit the Wizards for paying a heck of a basketball game and coach Wittman for making some solid adjustments that really impacted the game. They made a big run in the second quarter because of the big adjustments and they played a terrific basketball game. Sometimes you can get outdone by a special performance and what Paul George did tonight was special. There's no way else to put it." -- Pacers coach Frank Vogel

Up next: The Wizards will practice Monday before leaving for Indianapolis, where they'll play Game 5 on Tuesday (TNT, 7 p.m. ET). 

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