WASHINGTON D.C. – Before their third game of their best-of-seven series with the Wizards, George Hill said something that was a bit profound.
“I think we need to go into it like we’re down 0-2,” said the Pacers guard during shootaround at the Verizon Center on Friday morning. “I think when our backs are against the wall and everyone is playing desperate, that’s when we play our best ball.”
A few hours later, Hill’s hypothesis was proven true.
Showing the characteristics of that made them the NBA’s hottest team early in the season, the Pacers used a second half push to blast past the Wizards 85-63 Friday evening in Washington D.C. The Pacers have a 2-1 series lead and can take a commanding lead on Sunday with a win at Game 4 Sunday at 8:00 P.M.
In their mid-season form, Paul George and Roy Hibbert helped to lead their way inside and out for the Pacers. George led Indiana with 27 points while Hibbert continues his turnaround by adding 14 points and five rebounds. David West added 12 points as the Pacers outscored the Wizards by 21 point in the second half to pick up their third road win of the playoffs.
The Pacers and the Wizards kept at an arm’s length for most of the first half. Washington took as much as a seven-point lead in the second quarter but the Pacers erased that with a late run capped by a George Hill three-pointer to give themselves a one-point lead at halftime.
After that it was all visitors as Indiana put together a third-quarter run which they became synonymous for early in the season when they were the best team in the NBA. A 24-6 run in the third quarter-highlighted by an acrobatic layup-and-foul by Lance Stephenson put the Pacers up by 15 entering the third quarter.
That advantage only grew in the fourth quarter. George finished off a 27-point night with a three-pointer midway through the quarter to put the Pacers up 75-58 and Hill a short time later got the lead over 20 with a trey of his own.
Bench players pushed the lead up to 22 by the end of the game as the Pacers showed some swagger from the not-to-distant pass to pick up a victory.