INDIANAPOLIS — In the final minute, when it was obvious that their latest attempt to gain some respectability against one of the NBA’s elite teams was going to end with a resounding thud, the Washington Wizards were no longer concerned with the Indiana Pacers. They were no longer struggling to determine if their shooting woes were the result of poor form or problems with depth perception.
No, with clock ticking down, the Wizards just had to make sure that they wouldn’t match the lowest scoring game in franchise history. They avoided that ignominious mark when Kevin Seraphin made a jump hook with 49.8 seconds remaining, but they still left Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a 93-66 loss that Coach Randy Wittman described as being taken "to the woodshed.”
Washington posted the lowest point total in the NBA this season and matched the franchise’s third-worst offensive output. It also set season lows for assists (13), field goal percentage (32.1), free throw percentage (39.1) and matched the lowest scoring half of the season (29) in a wretched offensive display against the league’s stingiest defense.
“I looked at the box score and we shot horrible, we had shots going off the side of the backboard, air ball hook shots,” Trevor Booker said. “It was just one of those nights where we looked terrible on offense. In order to beat a team like that, you’ve got to make shots.”
The Wizards (16-18) once again appeared overmatched in Indiana, extending a losing streak in this building that dates back to when Eddie Jordan was coach. They lost for the 12th consecutive time; their last victory here coming April 18, 2007.
The Pacers (29-7) have the NBA’s best record and have won both games against the Wizards this season by a combined 47 points. The Wizards are 1-13 against teams that currently have records of .500 or better and have lost eight of those games by double digits.
“I really can’t explain it,” said Bradley Beal, who scored a team-high 17 points but missed 12 of his 18 shots. “It’s about staying together and buying in. These are clutch games for us and games we needed to be able prove ourselves and show people that we’re a winning team. Whenever you have an elite team like this, you have to be able to beat them and continue to move forward, because that shows we can compete with anybody and beat pretty much anybody.”
So far, the Wizards have only defeated one team with a winning record – Atlanta – and it came the day after a blowout loss in Indiana. They will host the Houston Rockets (23-14) on Saturday.
Before the game, Wittman tried not to harp on the Wizards' lack of success in Indiana. “Each game is different,” he said. “And today is a new day and that's how our guys have to look at it. It's going to take a good effort on our part, but one we're capable of doing.”
But that didn’t happen Friday night. The Pacers again managed to fluster John Wall, who needed 15 shots to score 13 points. In a play that summed up his night, Wall raced out on a fast break, got fouled and attempted to sneak in a runner. Pacers swingman Lance Stephenson spiked the ball into the sixth row to make sure he would not have an opportunity for a three-point play. In two games against the Pacers, Wall has scored a total of 21 points on 8-of-29 shooting (27.6 percent).
“They’re the No. 1 defensive team in the league for a reason,” Wall said. “I think I just missed easy shots. Some nights, you’re going to have off nights and it’s kind of tough to get to the paint, when you’ve got Roy Hibbert back there, one of the best shot blockers .”
The Wizards were able to hold Hibbert, the former Georgetown star, relatively in check. He failed to record any blocks, had just six rebounds and shot 4 of 10 from the field to finish with 12 points. But the 7-foot-2 Hibbert did pull a stunner when he buried a corner three-pointer in front of the Pacers bench in the first half.
“He surprised me with that three,” Marcin Gortat said. “I said, ‘Seriously, Roy?’ And he looked at me like he does this every day. I know he’s a good defender, but c’mon. Seriously?”
Pacers forward David West had a game-high 20 points, with 10 coming during a third quarter that Booker would just as soon forget. Pacers all-star forward Paul George (eight points) attempted to drive, stepped on Booker’s foot and fell on his backside but Booker was called for the personal foul. Later, Booker hit the side of the backboard and missed another jumper and West threw down a dunk over Wall and Booker, who sat down after Wittman called an immediate timeout and did not return.