The Indiana Pacers must have been taking notes while watching the Los Angeles Clippers come from 16 down in the final nine minutes on Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday evening, the Pacers overhauled a 19-point deficit on the road in Washington to take firm control of their series with a 3-1 lead.
Washington led 57-38 at halftime behind a solid all-round scoring effort. Indiana’s offense was again struggling to find open looks and any open looks they did generate missed badly.
Paul George then played the entire second half – after playing all of the second quarter – and scored 28 of his playoff career-high 39 points after the break. George played 46 minutes, his postseason high.
George turned in the kind of overpowering performance the Pacers came to rely on during the regular season. He grabbed 12 rebounds and was diving across the floor to tie up loose balls late in the game.
George also took the Wizards apart from behind the three-point line, knocking down seven threes and tying a Pacers franchise playoff record.
He hit back-to-back threes to bring the Pacers to 85-82 with a little over five minutes to play.
Washington got it’s final two points with two minutes left on a pair of free-throws. They did not score a field goal over the final seven-plus minutes as their young core shrunk from the spotlight.
Drew Gooden and Al Harrington both took shots in the final two minutes. No playoff team boasting John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene and the red-hot Trevor Ariza should be allowing either player to take a shot down the stretch. However, they were the only two players to step up and take the shots presented to them, rather than deferring like their teammates.
It’s very difficult to criticise a team for being young and inexperienced but said inexperience certainly had an impact late in the game.
Wall took the ball wide-open on the wing and elected to pass up the open three with his bench urging him to shoot just feet away. The crowd’s audible groan was a not-so-subtle indicator of what was to come on the final Wizards’ possession.
The Wizards’ out of bounds play failed to get anyone open, the ball flying past Bradley Beal’s grasping hands. Paul George dived across the court to help deflect it out of bounds to the Pacers.
Roy Hibbert scored the final two Indiana points on a baby-hook in the final minute as he continued his recent resurgence. He finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds as he slowly puts his zero-point, zero-rebounds Game 1 behind him.
Paul George: 39 points, 12-20, 12 rebounds, 8-10 FTS
Roy Hibbert: 17 points, 6-12 FGS, 9 rebounds
George Hill: 15 points, 6-12 FGS, 4 assists
Bradley Beal: 16 points, 7-14 FGS, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
John Wall: 12 points, 4-11 FGS, 7 assists
Trevor Ariza: 16 points, 6-11 FGS, 9 rebounds
Game 5 @IND: Tuesday, May 13th. Tip: 7pm ET