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Wizards-Pacers best and worst, Game 4


John McDonnell/The Washington Post

Best and worst moments from Indiana’s 95-92 win over the Wizards at Verizon Center in Game 4.

Worst final possession: Down three, with the ball out of bounds and about 6 seconds left, Trevor Ariza inbounded the basketball to no one. The ball found its no-one mark. It headed aimlessly into the back court, before Indiana finally grabbed it and called timeout. Then the series moved back to Indiana, with Washington trailing 3 games to 1.

Worst finishing: The Wizards were up 19 in the third quarter and had a chance to blow the Pacers out. It never happened. Indiana went on a run, Roy Hibbert got involved, fans started loosening their collars, hearts started racing, Indiana went on another run, it was a one-point game after three quarters, and the blow-out chance disappeared. Even when Washington pushed the lead up to nine midway through the fourth quarter, it felt inevitable that this game would go down to the final minutes. And the Pacers finished the game on a 19-7 run.

Best takeover: A month ago, anyone in America would have called Paul George the best player in this potential series. A week ago, you could have possibly found an argument. And now? Yeah, probably not. After not scoring more than 23 points in any of the first three games of this series, George had 39 on Sunday, with 28 coming after halftime. He completely took over the game.

Best assist: Roy Hibbert, missing for weeks, appears to be back. He had 17 points and nine rebounds, his third straight game with at least 14 points. Hibbert was also at his best after halftime, with 15 points and seven rebounds. At one point in the fourth quarter, George and Hibbert combined for 18 straight Indiana points.

Worst disappearance: Marcin Gortat did not have one of his best games. The Polish big man reached double-digits in either points or rebounds in seven of Washington’s first eight playoff games. In half of those games, he reached double-digits in both. Sunday night, he finished with two points and three rebounds in more than 21 minutes.

Worst quarter: In this series — as for what felt like much of the regular season — it’s been the third. TNT pointed out that the Wizards have been outscored in the third quarter four games in a row, by a total of 42 points.


(Via TNT)

 Best weirdness: “We would have been finished without Drew Gooden and Al Harrington,” every Wizards fan thought at some point on Sunday night. “Drew Gooden and Al Harrington are my two favorite players in the NBA,” every Wizards fan thought at some point on Sunday night. “I’ll probably road trip to Springfield when Drew Gooden and Al Harrington get inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame,” every Wizards fan thought at some point on Sunday night. They combined for 21 points off the bench.

Best weirdness, part II: When Andre Miller was at the free throw line and everyone was chanting “An-dre Mil-ler.”

Worst home court: Washington is now 4-1 on the road in the playoffs, which is tremendous. Washington is also now 1-3 at home in the playoffs, which is terrible. The Wizards never seemed to have much of a home-court advantage all season, and nothing has changed in the postseason.

Best bench: At halftime, Washington’s starters had 36 points. Indiana’s starters had 36 points, too. And yet Washington was up by 17 points. Yes, that means the Wizards’ bench had a 19-2 advantage. Washington’s bench finished with a 32-2 advantage.

Best Turnaround: At the end of the third quarter of Game 3, the Wizards had 45 points. At halftime of Game 5, the Wizards had 55 points. The repulsive offense was gone, at least.

Best Pace: At halftime, the official box score gave Washington an 18-0 lead in fast-break points. Remember, Washington had a 17-point halftime lead. Also, some enterprising types figured out that the Wizards combined for nine fast-break points in the previous two games.

Best buzzerish beater: The second quarter couldn’t have gone much better — Washington turned a one-point deficit into a 17-point lead — and John Wall made sure the good times went right up to the buzzer. With time winding down in the first half, Wall went the length of the court, eluded George Hill with some behind-the-back magic, and finished at the rim just a moment before the half ended.

Best spark plug: Al Harrington? Al Harrington. The little-used veteran came off the bench and scored three quick baskets to start the second quarter, prompting a 12-0 run from the home team. TNT’s Ian Eagle dropped a “Wayback Machine” reference on Harrington, too. That was before Andre Miller and Drew Gooden started scoring. The 2000s were a great decade. Oh, and Charles Barkley said Washington’s bench was “better known as the Old Geezers” during halftime.

Best dunk: Martell Webster, on a quite lengthy alley-oop lob from Andre Miller. That isn’t what my pre-game prediction would have been.

Worst timing: With everything on the line, the last thing the Wizards needed was a point guard dealing with a painful eye injury that necessitated a contact lens he had never worn before. John Wall was shown several times touching or holding his eye and wincing.


(Via TNT)

Worst start: After the Bulls series and the first game of this series, everyone rightly praised Washington for playing unbelievable — and unbelievably underrated — defense. In Game 4, the Pacers made 7 of their first 8 shots and led for most of the first quarter. It was the first time Washington trailed after the first quarter in these playoffs.

Best defense: You see that paragraph right above this one? You can start ignoring it now. Because in the second quarter, Indiana’s offense was packed up into a duffel bag and tossed into some subterranean Verizon Center vault heretofore used only for sweat-soaked, used G-Wiz costumes. Indiana missed its first five shots of the second quarter, and was scoreless for more than four minutes.

Worst defense: You see that paragraph right above this one? You can start ignoring it now. Because in the third quarter, Indiana scored 33 points, again shot above 60 percent and turned a blowout back into a one-point game. You know, maybe I shouldn’t make dramatic best-and-worst pronouncements before the game is over. “We’ve lost that pressure on the ball; we have to get it back,” Randy Wittman told TNT before the fourth quarter.

Best celebrities: Robert Griffin III and DeSean Jackson were both there. Hard to find a higher-watt D.C. twosome than that one.

Best T-shirt: Someone could make some money with this one.

Worst jersey: Someone could lose some money with this one. Especially with the yellow t-shirt underneath.

Best realization: Even if the Wizards loses this series, they beat a tough Chicago team in a first-round series despite not having home-court advantage. They’re playing the Eastern Conference’s top seed. They have an all-world point guard. The future looks bright. So just relax.

Worst realization: Oh.  Right. (Sorry.)

(Vines via @Truth_About_It)

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