WASHINGTON D.C. – Over the course of three games, the Pacers have gone from a team that looked lost in an abyss of sluggish play to the legitimate NBA title contender they seemed to be a few months ago.
On Sunday, they did all that over the course of 48 minutes.
In an impressive comeback, Indiana rallied from 19 points down to beat the Wizards 95-92 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series at the Verizon Center. Their third consecutive victory now puts them up 3-1 in their best-of-seven series and sets up a potential closeout Game 5 Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.
Paul George enjoyed one of the finest nights of his young career as he scored a personal playoff-best 39 points in helping the Pacers outscore the Wizards by 20 points in the second half to earn another win in Washington.
Roy Hibbert continued his resurgence with 17 points and nine rebounds while George Hill had 15 and David West 14. Bradley Beal had 20 points for the Wizards who watched a 17-point halftime disappear under a huge late run by their visiting opponents.
Such a rally was necessary because of a huge second quarter by Washington. An assertive Wizards team rode a strong first half by Al Harrington helped them outscore the Pacers 29-11 in the quarter to seize command of the game.
That was reinforced early in the third when the Wizards stayed in control, retaking a 17-point lead on a Marcin Gortat bucket with six minutes remaining in the quarter. That’s when the Pacers finally woke up, outscoring the Wizards 20-4 to end the quarter and pull within a point before the fourth quarter.
George got the Pacers even with a 20-foot jumper and a foul to tie the game up at 74. That seemed to motivate the Wizards, who went on a run of their own to build as much as a nine-point lead with seven minutes to go. But once again the Pacers rallied back and grabbed a three-point lead when Hibbert hit a shot in the lane with 1:01 left.
Washington kept the deficit at three and had a shot to tie with six seconds remaining, but Trevor Ariza’s bad pass was stolen by George, which sealed another win for a team looking stronger with each passing game.