Wizards’ blowout prevents the Pacers from closing out series

INDIANAPOLIS – Hard to believe in just a week the Pacers went from confusion to closing.

Down 1-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal series to the Wizards, it seemed as if the No. 1 seed in the conference would once again be in for the fight of their lives as they were in the first round against the Hawks.

But three consecutive wins over Washington–including two on the road–set them up for a closeout game.

Yet the yo-yo of play the Pacers have experienced in the 2014 NBA Playoffs continued yet again on Tuesday night, when the Pacers looked more like the shaky team that nearly lost to Atlanta rather than the strong group that owned the last three games against Washington.

The Wizards dominated the glass in record fashion as they grabbed 62 boards compared to just 23 for Indiana. Marcin Gortat led the Wizards with 16 of them including a team-high 31 points as the Wizards outscored the Pacers by 16 points in the second half to pull away.

David West had 17 for the Pacers while Paul George scored 15 in a night to forget for the home team.

A combination of bad shooting and rebounding along with an aggressive Wizards team kept the Pacers from closing out their semifinal series as Washington pulled away for a big 102-79 win in the second half. Indiana’s lead in the series is down to 3-2 and they will have to travel to Washington for Game 6 on Thursday at 8 p.m.

Washington came out in the first quarter like they were a team trying to stay alive in the postseason. Struggling against Roy Hibbert over the past three games, Marcin Gortat found himself at home on the inside, hitting 5-of-6 shots from the field and scoring 11 points for the Wizards who led at the end of one quarter 25-19.

While the Pacers were able to get the lead back early in the second quarter, their poor shooting and porous rebounding allowed Washington to rebuild their advantage. Indiana shot just 36 percent from the floor and was out-rebounded 32-11 in the quarter as the Wizards led by seven going into the break

In the third the Wizards pulled away and turned it into a romp. They used their superior rebounding and offense to outscore the Pacers a football-like 31-14 in the quarter and as they took a commanding 24-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Washington would push their lead into the 30s in the fourth quarter as a closeout game slipped away from the Pacers in ugly fashion.

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