The otherwise slumping Roy Hibbert bounced back to contribute 28 points and nine assists to the Indiana Pacers’ late 86-82 win over the Washington Wizards at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Marcin Gortat led the Wizards’ efforts with 21 points, but Bradley Beal and Nene rounded out Washington’s double-digits points club on the night with 17 and 14, respectively.
Many of the factors that have driven the Wizards thus far in the playoffs were missing in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. For starters, Washington shot just 23.8 percent from behind the arc, and completed just five of 12 free throws.
And, despite their ability to slow the Pacers’ offense a bit, the Wizards lost their grip over late opportunities.
After ending the first tied 23-23, the Wizards outscored the Pacers by just two points in the second quarter. Through the middle of the quarter, both teams struggled to sink baskets, but Nene finally broke Washington out of the drought to make it 37-35 with 3:59 left in the half.
John Wall drove to the net with a dunk, only to be repeated by the Pacers’ George Hill seconds later. Then, Gortat’s eight-footer tied things up 41-41, before Trevor Booker’s jumper narrowly put Washington in front at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Wizards came out strong, at first after Gortat and Nene went back-to-back to give Washington a six-point lead. It stuck, until Washington handed Lance Stephenson a pair of free baskets before giving up back-to-back shots to Hill to tie the game with 7:31 left in the quarter.
But, the Wizards remained a day late and a dollar short for the remainder of the quarter, after Hibbert and Stephenson took advantage of small but timely opportunities, including a three-point shot and a pair of free throws.
Gortat made his effort to tie things up again, but Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi saw to it that it would not be the case.
The Pacers narrowly led the Wizards 68-64 entering the fourth quarter, but, by way of a Drew Gooden basket, a jumper from Beal and a free throw, the Wizards evened the score with 9:56 left to play.
Nene made a 20-footer to push Washington in front, but Hibbert responded with a dunk fed by Paul George.
The Wizards held a lead, however, with as few as 5:32 left to play. But, George added four points before Stephenson made a jumper to give the Pacers an 84-79 lead.
Beal sank a late three to keep hope alive for the Wizards, but David West’s late free shots pushed Indiana in front once and for all, 86-82.
With the loss, the Wizards are now tied with the Pacers 1-1 in the series.