June 12, 2021

Washington Wizards Game 38 Recap: House of Guards return to form as Wiz top Pacers

The Washington Wizards are back to playing the brand of basketball that makes Randy Wittman happy. The defensive intensity has picked up, to a tune of 58 forced turnovers during the current three-game winning streak, and they have allowed that to turn into efficient offense by scoring 73 points off said turnovers. Going into Friday, the Wizards have 15 more games until the all star break in mid-February, when they are likely to be fully healthy — barring any further injury. Although currently the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference, they are only one game back of the eighth seeded Magic.

 Without two regular starters, Marcin Gortat (knee inflammation) and Otto Porter (hip), you might think the Pacers would run Washington out of the building with the shooting that set Verizon Center on fire before Thanksgiving. While the Pacers shot a miserable 17.6 percent (3 of 17) from beyond the arc, the House of Guards performance that fans expected all year returned. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 50 points on 36 field goal attempts as well as 12 rebounds and 9 assists. Washington got 69 points off the bench as they cruised in the second half with a 118-104 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Washington continued to have much of the same success on the defensive end of the court as they’ve had during their winning streak by forcing turnovers. The Pacers had six miscues within the game’s opening five minutes. Regardless of shooting 34.5 percent (10 of 29) in the quarter, Washington had an 18-9 advantage, thanks to Kelly Oubre‘s effort in the starting lineup in place of Porter. Indiana responded with a 14-2 run nearing the end of the quarter when the small-ball lineup hurt Randy Wittman‘s club defensively. Washington trailed 27-24 at the end of one quarter of play.

After making their previous eight field goal attempts to end the first quarter Indiana missed their next nine, which allowed Washington to go on an 8-0 run to recapture the lead. Frank Vogel called timeout as the Wizards extended that same run to 20-4 thanks to 31 points off the bench by halftime. George Hill kept Indiana relevant with seven straight points to keep their deficit in single digits. From 2:47 to 0:44 both sides combined to score on 11 of 12 possessions for 23 points as the pace quickened. Making up for the pour shooting in the first, the Wizards poured in 35 in the second to take a 59-46 lead at the half.

(Photo by: @NBA)

(Photo by: @NBA)

John Wall heated up during a three-minute span to start the third quarter, with a transition 3-point play, emphatic dunk off of a pick, 3-pointer to answer George Hill’s, and a midrange jumper just for good measure. With Bradley Beal bringing an offensive punch off the bench, Gary Neal seemed to have a better time against defenses as he was the secondary shooter on the floor. Both hit shots to end the quarter as Washington was rolling into the fourth with a 88-72 lead.

The Wizards lead was simply insurmountable as they continued to get contribution from even the most unlikely players. DeJuan Blair posted his first double-digit scoring performance of the season on an efficient six field goal attempts. With a season high in both offensive and total rebounds, Washington was no match for the Pacers. Wall’s direction of the offense kept Washington’s foot on the pedal until Frank Vogel finally waved the white towel with three minutes to play. The Wizards got back to the .500 mark and are closing in on getting back into the playoff picture with a 118-104 victory over the Pacers.

By tying their season-long winning streak of four games, the Wizards will have a chance to get above .500 on Saturday — for the first time since Nov. 24 — against the Boston Celtics at home at 7:30 pm. Washington could see Marcin Gortat return, while Bradley Beal could sit out for precautionary reasons to not rush back from the beginnings of a stress reaction injury.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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