Johnson: Pacers cruise past Washington

Johnson: Pacers cruise past Washington
December 31, 2010, 10:49 pm
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Friday December 31, 2010 5:38 p.m.


By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comIndianapolis---There have been times when the Wizards have played well on the road but failed to close games. Against the Indiana Pacers in a New Years Eve matinee, it was not one of those times. The Wizards lost 95-86 for a franchise record-setting 16 consecutive defeats on the road.From the start the Pacers were the more aggressive team and looked eager to avenge Wednesdays loss to the Wizards at Verizon Center. As the Pacers played efficient basketball, the Wizards stumbled and from late in the first quarter to deep into the second quarter went 11:54 without scoring a field goal.In the second quarter the Wizards only shot 2 of 14 from the field and at half-time trailed 49-34. The Pacers point guards, Darren Collison and T.J. Ford, helped set the tone in the first half and Collison finished as the Pacers leading scorer with 18 points and 6 assists.Danny Granger, who was limited in Wednesdays loss to the Wizards, was more aggressive in attacking the basket and also finished with 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field. Former Georgetown star Roy Hibbert also rebounded from a poor game against the Wizards in D.C. to score 17 points with 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.The Wizards were forced into using their 15th starting lineup in 31 games with Kirk Hinrich sidelined by a left thigh contusion. Wall started in Hinrichs place and in the third quarter tried to will the Wizards back into the game. Wall scored the Wizards final 11 points of the third quarter and led the Wizards with 25 points.On offense the Wizards were never able to establish any kind of flow. Rashard Lewis did turn in a solid game with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, and Al Thornton came of the bench and scored 10 points. Thornton was back in the rotation because Josh Howard was unavailable for the second half because of a sore left knee.For the game the Wizards only had 12 assists but a combination of careless play and the Pacers defense really caused the Wizards to unravel. The Pacers enjoyed 27 points on 22 Wizards turnovers. Rookie Paul George was part of the Pacers story with a career high 5 steals to help him to a career high 13 points.To be sure it was no beauty contest. The Pacers actually had 23 turnovers that led to 23 Wizards points. Still the Pacers were better offensively when they had to be and were effective in shutting down Nick Young and Andray Blatche.In Wednesdays Wizards win, Young turned in one of his best performances of the season and led the team in scoring with 25 points. The Pacers were more aggressive and physical against Young on Friday and he was held to 8 points on 2 of 11 shooting from the field. Blatche, who did have 12 rebounds, also was held to 8 points on 4 of 16 shooting from the field.