Wizards thump Pacers to steal home court in Game 1

Wizards thump Pacers to steal home court in Game 1
May 5, 2014, 9:30 pm
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(Associated Press)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Just in case there was any lingering doubt about how good the Wizards are after their five-game elimination of the Chicago Bulls, what they did Monday in Game 1 vs. the Indiana Pacers should erase all doubt. They won for the first time in seven years at Bankers Life Fieldhouse -- and the first time in 13 games -- 102-96 to take home-court advantage with a comprehensive beating of the No. 1 seed in the East.

They're now 4-0 on the road in the playoffs and this was their first win in the second round since 1982. 

The Wizards jumped out to an 8-0 lead courtesy of two quick three-pointers from Trevor Ariza. They stretched it to 14 in the first quarter, soon lost it because of a 16-2 run by the Pacers to begin the second quarter but turned the tables again when John Wall returned to the floor. A 31-30 lead for Indiana was a 56-43 by halftime.

Wall ran the perfect floor game. He finished with 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two blocks. His backcourt mate Bradley Beal, however, closed it by scoring 14 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to go along with his seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals. 

Aside from a spurt by David West when he had four quick points and Luis Scola came off the bench to score six, Nene and Marcin Gortat controlled the paint. Gortat missed four of his first six shots but he had seven points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two assists in the first half. He finished with 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. 

Lance Stephenson did his best to keep the Pacers alive in the second half when he scored nine of his 12 points. But he shot just 4-for-13. Paul George, Indiana's best player, went just 4-for-17 for 18 points and never was a factor.   

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Ariza had 22 points and six rebounds. Nene had 14 points and six rebounds though he was saddled with foul trouble. 

Turning point: The Pacers ended the second quarter 4-for-13 shooting which allowed the Wizards to take a 13-point lead at halftime. Then the Wizards went without a field the last 6:14 of the third, shooting 0-for-11, but still led 69-62 entering the fourth. 

Key stats: Because of a 17-6 edge in offensive rebounding, the Wizards led 19-5 in second-chance points. 

On fire: Ariza is 19-for-34 from three-point range in six playoff games. He went 6-for-6 from the arc in this one, with five coming in the first half.

Foul play: Roy Hibbert had a miserable second quarter and probably was the sole player responsible for ruining the 16-2 run for Indiana. He was beaten badly off the dribble by Nene for a finger-roll layup, dunked on by Nene, fouled Nene as he was boxed out for a rebound, gave up a face-up jumper to Nene, committed an offensive foul while setting and screen and then gave up a three-point play to Beal who he fouled on a drive. When it was over the Pacers were behind again 39-33. Hibbert drew the three fouls in a span of 1:37. Hibbert was hit with his fourth foul 64 seconds into the third quarter and went to the bench again. A non-factor, finished 0-for-2 for 0 points and 0 rebounds. 

All good: Drew Gooden didn't have much of a role in the first series, but with Nene's foul trouble he played a vital role. Gooden had 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting and 13 rebounds in just 18 minutes. Coach Randy Wittman played him with Nene, which created opportunities on the offensive glass for Gooden to get some fourth-quarter tip-ins. 

From the locker room: "We did it in the last series. We started well pretty early. It allowed us to be comfortable throughout the whole game. We get to good starts we have a good chance of sustaining that throughout the game. They made runs and we didn't really give in to that." -- Ariza

"We know this is going to be a war. It was a very physical game. We were lucky enough tonight to come out. Winning the board battle is important to us." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman

"Collectively it was just our defense. We played tremendously for 48 minutes on the defensive end, just getting deflections, limiting them to one shot, getting out and getting them out their rhythm as best we could. Trevor did a great job guarding PG. That's a tough assignment. ... We're more desperate each and every game because we know it's a great team. Anything can happen in the playoffs." -- Beal 

"We don't want to settle like a lot of teams in these playoffs (for the split). We want to stay hungry. Thirsty. We want to get another win." -- Gortat

"We can't put ourselves in these predicaments. We should learn from the first series. It's going to work us hard. It's going to be hard. It's going to be a tough series for us. We can't allow ourselves to get put in these holes. It's tough for us to play out of it because we're exerting so much energy. We got to get off to good starts." -- George 

Next: The Wizards will practice Tuesday and shoot around early Wednesday before playing Game 2 here (TNT, 7 p.m. ET).

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