Hobbled Wizards Fall Short, Lose 3rd Straight

Pacers 93, Wizards 85

Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal is obscured by a pair of Wizards, Antawn Jamison, left, and Darius Songaila. Washington lost its third straight.
Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal is obscured by a pair of Wizards, Antawn Jamison, left, and Darius Songaila. Washington lost its third straight. (By Aj Mast -- Associated Press)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 23, 2007; Page D01

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 22 -- Laughter filled Conseco Fieldhouse when a fan wandered onto the court in the third quarter Saturday night and was taken down on a hard tackle by a beefy security guard.

Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan was too busy setting up his next play to notice what was going on, or perhaps he was simply relieved that the fan, who looked as if he'd consumed too much holiday eggnog, didn't stumble and take out one of his players.

Already without injured guards Gilbert Arenas and Antonio Daniels, the Wizards received more bad news before the game when all-star forward Caron Butler was scratched from the lineup because of injured ankles.

The results were predictable. The Wizards showed the resiliency they've displayed all season and kept things interesting well into the fourth quarter before falling, 93-85.

It was the third straight loss for the Wizards (13-13).

Forward Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 29 points and 12 rebounds and guard Roger Mason Jr., who was making his second straight start, scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but the Wizards shot 40.3 percent and committed 15 turnovers, which the Pacers turned into 24 points.

"We don't want to keep it close, we want to win the game," Jordan said. "There's no real satisfaction out of keeping it close. I liked the way we played. We played hard, we stayed organized and did the things we are supposed to do. But we just couldn't get over the top and make the plays at the offensive end."

The Wizards trailed 84-79 with just under four minutes remaining when Indiana forward Danny Granger made a three-pointer that pushed the lead back to eight. The Wizards got no closer than six the rest of the way.

Granger, who had a big game in Indiana's season-opening overtime win over the Wizards, led the Pacers with 25 points while Kareem Rush came off the bench to score 15. Indiana's 35 field goals were the product of 29 assists.

"It seemed like every time we got it close, they made a big shot or came up with a three-point play to push the lead back to where it was," Mason said. "They made some big shots and we came up short."

Butler sprained his right ankle during practice Thursday but started Friday night against Atlanta. He said he felt fine until he rolled the left ankle when he landed after taking his first shot.

Butler toughed it out but obviously wasn't himself and finished with 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting in just under 40 minutes in a 97-92 loss. He is listed as day-to-day.

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