Wizards-Pacers best and worst, Game 6


( Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Best and worst moments from Washington’s season-ending 93-80 loss to Indiana at Verizon Center.

Best playoff scorer in NBA history: David West, apparently. It’s kind of early to tell for sure, but I’m pretty sure West just received his membership card into the Pete Kozma and Jaroslav Halak Club of Awfulness. He scored 29 points on 26 shots. It only felt like 500 points on 732 shots.

Worst streak: Remarkably, Washington still has not won a second-round NBA playoff game at home since 1979. They finished these playoffs 1-4 at home, and 5-1 on the road. I don’t think that’s anything you can really practice. It’s just weird. Marcin Gortat was right; it would have been better if this game was in Indiana.

Worst other streaks: Washington has still not played in a Game 7 since 1979. And the Wizards have now lost six straight home games when facing elimination, the second-longest such streak in NBA history, according to @EliasSports.

Best individual play: During that briefly tense fourth quarter, Bradley Beal ripped the ball out of the very large Roy Hibbert’s hands underneath the Indiana rim, came down the court and hit a three-pointer to give Washington its first lead in forever. Mike Tirico screamed. Sam Cassell marched down the sideline in triumph. The fans roared like their spleens depended on it. It was a good moment. A happy ending seemed imminent.

Worst follow-up: And yet, with the arena ready to lift itself out of Chinatown and crash down somewhere near Union Market, the Pacers countered with a 17-2 run while Hubie Brown started talking about a meltdown. There were missed shots and turnovers and fouls, and then fans trooping sadly toward the exits. Not a happy ending, in other words.

Best passionate criticism of the officiating: Ted Leonsis wins. Hide the kids.

Best highlight package: Anything featuring old-school Bullets uniforms wins everything. ESPN went with an extended montage featuring the Bullets from 1979, the last time many good things happened. And that was the last time good things happened in this game. It was, for a moment, glorious.

Best early run: Indiana built a 16-point lead early in the third quarter, and it was nearly curtains. Then the Wizards went on an 11-2 run, capped by a John Wall layup. That was Washington’s first fast-break bucket of the game; it took more than 28 minutes to arrive. It was one of several glimpses of hope. (Via @UKhanNBA)

Worst possession to end a quarter: Washington had a burst of momentum — and the ball — at the end of the third quarter. Down by eight, John Wall apparently didn’t even consider driving. He instead launched a deep three that only grazed the rim. That was emblematic of many of Washington’s offensive issues. Read on.

Worst three-point shooting: Washington made 2 of 18. That’s pretty tough to overcome. In the first half, John Wall, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza shot a combined 5 for 17 from the field.

Worst stat: Over four consecutive quarters at Verizon Center — starting in the second half of Game 4 and continuing through the first half of Game 6 — the Wizards scored zero fast-break points. That’s amazing.

Worst apparent unwillingness to take the ball to the rim: John Wall. In the first half, anyhow. He only shot two free throws on the night, and yes, several apparent fouls were not called. But the point guard certainly didn’t force the issue for much of the night.

Best secret weapon: Lance Stephenson didn’t score more than 12 points in any of the first five games of this series. He had 17 in the elimination game, including several crucial baskets.

Worst sign: Indiana Coach Frank Vogel talked to ESPN after the first quarter, when Indiana led by six. “They look mad,” he said of his Pacers. “They look mad at our performance the other night.” They did. They also made 68 percent of their shots in that first quarter.

Best quote: ESPN’s Mike Tirico, just before tip-off: “Hard to believe, there are six teams left that can win the NBA championship in 2014. And Washington — a 100-1 shot to start the season — is one of those six.”

Worst quote: ESPN’s Mike Tirico, midway through the second quarter. “The Wizards, their crowd, I’m shocked. In an elimination game, there’s no juice here.” “You’re right,” Hubie Brown agreed. This was a theme.

Worst prediction: In the moments leading up to tip-off, ESPN’s Bill Simmons predicted the Pacers would win, the Wizards would win, and then the Pacers win. I sympathize. I couldn’t decide either.

Worst full house: I have no issue with the crowd noise. I have no issue with anyone who’d rather watch at home. It’s kind of better, in a lot of ways. Heck, I watched at home. And I sure have no issue with anyone who didn’t want to pay playoff prices. But the fact is, you could get 20 tickets together from the box office 90 minutes before the biggest Wizards game in 35 years. That’s kind of weird.

Worst other comments about the crowd: “I thought this place would be in a frenzy,” Jalen Rose said at halftime. “I was gonna say, Lada Gaga might have gotten a louder crowd than this crowd,” Bill Simmons added.

Okay, one more: “The ball was deflected off of one of the 7,000 spectators walking across the sidelines to get back to their seats,” Tirico said early in the third quarter.

Best costume: This one I suppose.

Best video bomb: This one I suppose.

Best season since 1979: It was still almost definitely this past one, from Wall and Beal’s exploits during all-star weekend to the team refusing to crater after Nene’s injury to the late push for the fifth seed to the first-round demolition of Chicago. Obviously no one sits around and dreams of a second-round exit, but in total — when viewed from October — this was a nice season. Not amazing. But very, very nice.

Worst ending: That said, Washington teams are now 5-11 in home playoff elimination games since 2003. Not that it’s the end of the world, but it would be nice if fans got to enjoy a little bit more sporting happiness in the future.

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