Indianapolis (TSN) – With one George still on the mend, Indiana’s other George continued to keep the Pacers rolling, as Paul George recorded 29 points and 14 rebounds in an 89-81 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Despite George Hill sitting out a second straight game due to a strained right groin, the Pacers led wire-to-wire Wednesday to win their sixth straight home game and ninth straight over the lowly Wizards.
D.J. Augustin, starting in place of Hill, totaled 18 points and six assists, while Roy Hibbert added 13 points in Indiana’s sixth victory in seven games.
The Wizards, playing the second game of a back-to-back, tried rallying from an early 17-point deficit but never got over the hump in losing for the 11th time in 12 games. Jordan Crawford netted a team-high 20 points in defeat.
The only thing that went wrong for the Pacers in the opening quarter came just over five minutes in when Lance Stephenson missed a fastbreak dunk. Otherwise it was a lopsided start, with the Central Division leaders scoring 12 of the first 14 points and going in front, 24-7, following consecutive 3-pointers by George near the midway point.
Washington cut its 13-point deficit at the end of the first quarter to 31-25 after scoring the first seven points of the next frame. It was a three-point affair, 38-35, before George scored seven straight in less than a minute to rebuild Indiana’s double-digit lead. The Pacers led, 47-39, at the break.
The Wizards continued to chip away in the early stages of the third quarter and had an opportunity to tie or take the lead on two straight possessions. But a missed jumper by Emeka Okafor and a Garrett Temple turnover preceded a 12-4 Pacers run. Augustin started the flurry with a steal and layup and ended it with a 3-pointer for a 63-53 cushion.
The difference was 67-58 with 12 minutes to play and did not dip below seven until the closing seconds. Back-to-back buckets by George four minutes in pushed the margin to 77-64, and the Pacers stayed comfortably in front until Bradley Beal made two 3-pointers and a jumper in a three-possession span to pull Washington within 85-81 with 34.1 seconds to go.
Augustin sealed the win with four straight free throws.
Notes: The Pacers-Bulls game that was postponed by a snowstorm on Dec. 26 has been rescheduled for Feb. 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse … Beal, just hours after being named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December, shot 6- of-15 from the field for 14 points for Washington … Kevin Seraphin and Nene scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, in the loss … The Wizards have not won in Indianapolis since April 18, 2007 — a span of 10 games … Indiana outscored the Wizards at the foul line, 26-8.
“Paul George is becoming a beast of a player at both ends of the floor. He’s becoming one of the best wing defenders in the league. It was a dominant performance by him at both ends. He definitely deserves (All-Star) consideration. We don’t have 25-point-a-game guys. But David (West) and Paul are playing at an All-Star level. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t a blow out, but give credit to Washington. They always keep fighting. We’re playing good basketball and these will be exciting tests the next few games. (On Ian Mahinmi) Really valuable minutes with Roy Hibbert in foul trouble. He came in and gave us a good third quarter. That was a really solid night and we needed it.
“Washington, despite their record, they are a tough team defensively. They really get after it. We had to take care of the ball, really execute and find guys offensively. They play all out with nothing to lose. Sometimes that’s all it takes—for guys to go out there and be fearless. They just pay tenacious defense. (On the key for the Pacers in the second half) Just hanging in there and continuing the battle. We did a great job of really passing and seeing guys open. We were able to knock down some easy shots. Good thing we were able to take care of the ball at the end.”
“(On how the Pacers were able to win while shooting 38 percent) Just playing together on defense. When we play together on defense, nobody can stop us. (On winning 9 of 11 games) We’re playing together as a team and it starts in practice. That’s what we’re doing.”
“I felt always it’s good to get a win. But to tell you the truth we had a 17-point lead and we let that go. We have to make sure we keep a lead and keep things going. I felt like we need to address some things that happened during this game. A win is a win but if you ask people in this locker room I don’t think that they are very satisfied with the win tonight.”