Skip to content

Pacers turn up defense in rout of Wizards

May 10, 2014, 12:12 AM EDT

Roy Hibbert, Paul George Roy Hibbert, Paul George

WASHINGTON – Late in the fourth quarter with the result in hand, Paul George made a 3-pointer in front of the Pacers bench. George turned his back to the court, took a step toward Indiana’s reserves and celebrated his rub-it-in dagger with a little shimmy.

An assistant coach popped up and literally pushed George back on defense.

The Pacers defended with unrelenting effort and execution in a 85-63 Game 3 win over the Wizards on Friday. By taking a 2-1 series lead, Indiana has won four of five, second only to the Heat among the NBA’s hottest teams.

The Pacers had never allowed so few points in a playoff game. The Wizards had never scored so few in any game.

This was complete and total defensive domination.

By quarter, the Pacers allowed 17, 16, 12 and 18 points. They held Washington to less than 33 percent shooting. And they forced 17 turnovers.

No team has scored so little and won a playoff game by so much in a decade. It happened just nine times prior in NBA history.

“This was probably the ugliest game of the postseason this far,” said George, who scored a game-high 23 points. “But this is our style of basketball.”

Asked the last time his team defended so well, Vogel looked down and smiled slightly.

“I don’t know. My emotions are so high, I’m having trouble thinking about it,” Vogel said after a pause. “…I don’t think we’ve ever been that far from where were tonight.

He has a point. During the Pacers’ late-season collapse, their top-rated defense fell all the way to… No. 1.

Even though the Pacers slipped on both ends of the court, they were so dominant early defensively, they had plenty of margin for error to still lead the league in defensive rating. Indiana’s offensive slippage is real. Its defensive dip might be random variance and/or a product of defending fewer possessions after makes.

That case is a lot easier to make when Roy Hibbert is playing well. After his potentially breakthrough Game 2, the Pacers center followed with 14 points on nine shots and three blocks. His focus is essential to Indiana defending well.

Friday, the Pacers had it, and their defense looked every bit as dominant  as it did early in the season.

Of course, the Wizards helped.

Stifled by Indiana’s brick wall early, Washington too easily settled for jumpers. The Wizards’ free-throw shooting – 11-of-21 – can’t be pinned on the Pacers, either.

Late in the third quarter, the Wizards hit rock bottom.

John Wall brought the ball upcourt and then immediately threw a pass to a trailing Drew Gooden, who was behind the halfcourt line – drawing a backcourt violation so painfully obvious, the referee seemingly needed a moment to collect himself before calling it. Then, Washington shot just 1-of-6 from the charity stripe to close the quarter.

Fans at the Wizards’ first home game this deep into the playoffs in nine years mixed supportive cheers and boos. By the end of the game, the only fans left with desire to make a sound were the boo birds.

Afterward, a reporter called the basketball “not picturesque.”

“You’re being kind,” Wittman interjected. “…This was a clunker for us. There’s no question about it.”

For the Pacers, it could be more. Hibbert seems back on track (for now at least), and after a cold start to the series, George is heating up. And most importantly, Indiana is defending like a team capable of making Miami sweat on at least one end of the court.

“We’re building habits,” George said.

The Pacers, who never led the Hawks series until it ended, have regained homecourt advantage. The Wizards, on the other hand, trail in a playoff series for the first time this year.

This will be a new challenge for a young Washington team. The Pacers’ burden comes more from within.

Right now, Indiana is winning its battle with itself.

Latest Posts
  1. Jared Dudley calls Carmelo Anthony the NBA’s most overrated player

    May 27, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT

    BASKET-GBR-USA-NBA-MILWAUKEE-NY Getty Images

    First Kobe, now Melo – Dudley goes scorched earth

  2. PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ improved defense helps them to Finals

    May 27, 2015, 8:12 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers V Atlanta Hawks - Game Four Cleveland Cavaliers V Atlanta Hawks - Game Four

    The Cavaliers are allowing 98.5 points per 100 possession in the playoffs, the best of the four teams to reach the conference Finals

  3. Report: Pelicans interview Jeff Van Gundy

    May 27, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Seattle Seahawks v Houston Texans Getty Images

    Will he become Anthony Davis’ next head coach?

  4. Reports: Bulls getting closer to firing Tom Thibodeau

    May 27, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    Cleveland at Chicago, Game 6 Cleveland at Chicago, Game 6

    If they want him gone, they just have to pull the trigger on the firing. Otherwise, bring him back.

  5. PBT Extra: Despite ending, Hawks had season worth celebrating

    May 27, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks Media Day Getty Images

    The Hawks had an exciting season, they filled an arena that in past years felt like a mausoleum, they played beautiful basketball for months at a time.

  6. Bucks’ Jared Dudley: “Most guys don’t want to play with Kobe”

    May 27, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Free agents will still come to the Lakers, but their pool may be smaller than some other teams because of Kobe.

  7. LeBron James: ‘I couldn’t foresee us being in The Finals at the beginning of the season’

    May 27, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    Plenty has changed since LeBron re-joined the Cavaliers last summer.

  8. Report: Nets to explore trade market for Mason Plumlee

    May 27, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    The offers won’t be as strong as they were in December.

  9. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak: ‘Anywhere from 4-8 players could be in consideration’ for No. 2 pick in NBA Draft

    May 27, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Mitch Kupchak AP

    Eight seems like too many, but Kupchak has proven that he knows what he’s doing.

Featured video

Despite ending, Hawks had season to remember
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. S. Curry (7690)
  2. K. Irving (7039)
  3. K. Love (6339)
  4. L. James (5229)
  5. D. Howard (5038)
  1. D. Carroll (4453)
  2. K. Korver (4406)
  3. K. Bryant (4066)
  4. K. Durant (3857)
  5. A. Varejao (3826)