Wizards-Pacers best and worst, Game 5

Best and worst moments from Washington’s 102-79 blowout win over Indiana to force a Game 6.

Best rebounding: Washington got all of the rebounds. Indiana got none of them. This gave the Wizards a 734-0 rebounding advantage. It also made the home fans boo, and then leave. And it also meant that TNT’s Chris Webber spent two hours talking about how Washington was tougher and wanted it more. (Ok, the rebounding differential was actually 62-23.)

Worst rebounding: Indiana had its fewest-ever rebounds in a playoff game. And Indiana allowed its most-ever rebounds in a playoff game.

Best Polish Machine: Marcin Gortat was invisible in Game 4, recording only two points and three rebounds in more than 21 minutes while being dominated by Roy Hibbert. Tuesday night, Gortat passed that point total in 70 seconds, making his first two shots. He had 11 points and 6 rebounds by the end of the first quarter. He had 17 and 11 at the end of the first half, making him the third player to record a first-half double-double in these playoffs. He had 27 points by the end of the third quarter, a playoff career high. Actually, he scored six points and grabbed three offensive rebounds while you’ve been reading this paragraph. And four full-body roars.

Best stat: This, remember, from a guy who went for two and three 48 hours ago.

Best hot streak: The John Wall Washington has been missing for four games showed up in the third quarter. The point guard made the first four jump shots he attempted in the quarter, helping the Wizards extend their halftime lead, and then hit two more three-pointers before the quarter ended. He joined Gortat in roaring, also. Here’s one of the early jumpers, via @Truth_About_It. Wall also had a playoff career high after three quarters, and finished with 27 points.

Best halftime bounce: The Wizards had been outscored by a combined 42 points in the third quarter of this series. Randy Wittman joked before the game that maybe his team would stay on the court during halftime. Whatever they did, it worked. The Wizards outscored Indiana by 17 in the third quarter, turning a potential elimination game into a blowout. (John Wall also outscored the Pacers in the third quarter by himself.)

Best poise: The Wizards were down four in the second quarter not long after a 10-0 Indiana run, and with the crowd roaring, it felt like danger time. I’m not sure anyone would have been shocked had the Pacers seized control and pulled away. But the Wizards rallied behind their first unit. Four starters combined for Washington’s next eight points, and the Wizards put together a 17-3 run. They never trailed again.

Worst regression: Well, for Wizards fans, anyhow. Washington had a 32-2 bench advantage last time out. This time, Washington’s bench seemed lost at times, and Indiana’s reserves got the better of Washington’s, 31-12. When your starters are dominating, though, that doesn’t much matter.

Best shaved armpits: Marcin Gortat. Always, Marcin Gortat.


(Via TNT)

Worst culinary advice: In praise of Gortat’s excellence, Shaquille O’Neal explained that a Pierogi was a Polish sausage during TNT’s halftime show. That’s not how Pierogi are usually described. Then Charles Barkley said it was more like a noodle. Which is closer, I suppose.

Best start: After finishing Game 4 with a whimper, the Wizards came out screaming in Indiana, making five of their first six shots and taking a 10-3 lead. And as usual, Washington led after the first quarter. In 10 playoff games, they’ve only trailed after the first quarter once.

Worst defensive possession: That one where Roy Hibbert grabbed an offensive rebound while going out of bounds and flung the ball over his head to a teammate, and then grabbed another offensive rebound, and then found a cutting Lance Stephenson for a layup as the crowd went nutso. Those were the types of things the Wizards were doing to Chicago.

Worst colors: I’m not trying to be a miserable homer, and I don’t wear team gear anyhow, but jeez those gold Pacers playoff t-shirts are unfortunate. I just don’t know what you really do with them after the game is over. Who wears a yellow t-shirt? (Truth be told, I don’t love red shirts either, but they’ve worked for the Caps over the years, and I suppose they will work for the Wizards.) (Look, it’s kind of hard to do the same “Best and Worst” conceit 10 times in a month.) (Imagine if the Wizards ever win an NBA title.) (Though I suppose if the Wizards win an NBA title, your first concern won’t be the number of “Best and Worst” columns we’ve filed.) (And I’m sure you actually love yellow t-shirts. Whatever.)

Best pre-game tweet: Call me a cloying sap, but I like all the D.C. stars rooting for each other.

Best late-game tweet: Ryan Clark made a funny.

Best gracious loser tweet: Ryan Kerrigan made a funny, too. He’s a Pacers fan, obviously.

Best active player tweet: Adidas colleagues, but still.

Worst national haterade tweet: Jason Whitlock has been sounding this note for a few days now.

Worst ball security: That said, I assume Whitlock was referring to Wall’s assist-to-turnover ratio, and it’s been struggling. From games 3-5, Wall had 18 assists, and 17 turnovers. If you’re picking nits right now, that’s a nit.

Best idea: One online wag suggested the Wizards hand out yellow towels Thursday night. Because, you know, Washington is now 5-1 on the road in the playoffs, and 1-3 at home. Try road uniforms, at least.

Best boredom: If you were waiting for Indiana to make a run, it never really happened. That’s good for blood pressure, good for family dynamics, good for early bedtimes, and good for deadline writing. Bad for TV ratings, possibly, but whatever.

Best cancellation: All I can say is it’s a good thing the Verizon Center found another date for Lady Gaga. Because the Verizon Center will be occupied Thursday night, for one of the biggest pro basketball games this town has seen in 35 years.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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