Key Legislature: Wizards 97 at Pacers 90 — Wizards Survive Pacers Comeback Plan | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 97 at Pacers 90 — Wizards Survive Pacers Comeback Plan

Updated: November 9, 2014


[via @recordsANDradio]

[via @recordsANDradio]

Truth About’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment for the Washington Wizards’ fifth win of the season, a 97-90 blowout-turned-close win against the Indiana Pacers, from Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks).

DC Council Key Legislature

by Conor Dirks.

At halftime, Washington led Indiana 54-35, and the team was headed into what has been, statistically, their most effective quarter of the game so far this season: the third quarter. With a plus/minus differential of plus-4 in the third quarter (even including this game), the Wizards have been the NBA’s fourth-best performers in the period. Things will even out, but a plus-4 would be a greater differential than any team had last year, in any quarter. So how did Washington lose that quarter 30-19?

Describing the win (after a discouraging loss in Toronto the night before), Coach Randy Wittman said:

“There was not an excuse for how we played last night. And the number one thing is how you respond in the next game. I thought our guys were focused. We came out right from the start.”

Focused to start, perhaps. But halftime was the shiatsu massage that the Wizards didn’t need yet. Despite a 7-for-13 performance from Nene in the first half, the Wizards went away from their human litmus test in the second half, and Nene, who outscored the entire Pacers team in the first quarter, only saw three shots in his almost 18 second-half minutes.

Instead, the team fed Paul Pierce, who has cooled off considerably during this five-day stretch (during which the Wizards have played four games). The result was a chorus of clang.


Pierce, 2-for-13 on the night and 0-for-9 in the second half, led the team in free throw makes and attempts. If the Wizards uniform devalues a player’s ability to draw calls from the officials, Pierce was still able to force Indiana into obvious errors.

With Indiana already down Paul George, David West and George Hill, the Pacers suffered another setback when Roy Hibbert left the game with a bruise injury, and didn’t return. Hibbert’s absence freed up Gortat and Seraphin in the second half (both players shot 75% in the second half), but Solomon Hill absolutely destroyed Garrett Temple, shooting 7-for-11 and adding an additional five points at the free throw line after halftime.

It started one minute into the third quarter, where Temple cheated off Hill to show help on the ballhandler outside the 3-point line. Hill received the pass and, while Temple tried to get in front of him, got to the baseline for a short jumper. With six minutes left in the third quarter, Temple got caught on an Ian Mahinmi screen, and Hill, with a clear lane to the basket, blew past the Wizards for an easy layup. When Temple failed to box out Hill, ol’ Solomon (already having earned a new career high) got the board, dropped a few power moves on the unsuspecting Wizards defenders, and went up for another easy basket.

With 8:19 left in the fourth quarter, Temple bit when Hill faked a cut to the perimeter only to cut back towards the basket, receiving a nice pass for a layup over the front of the rim. And on Hill’s last basket of the game, which brought the Pacers within three points of the Wizards, Temple couldn’t stay in front of Hill as he dribbled around Mahinmi and drove the lane for a floater.

What finally stopped the bleeding? It’s unclear, really, but it may have been his presumably weary legs (he played a game-high 42 minutes). On his next shot, Temple was peeled from Hill, running into a Mahinmi screen on the perimeter, and losing his footing while Hill used the space to get at the basket. But Hill missed both the initial floater, and the follow-up after he grabbed his own offensive rebound. To close the game, Wall switched onto Hill, and the Pacers’ leading scorer failed to make another shot.

Nene, quiet all half, effectively sealed the game with an unlikely steal in the game’s final minute off of a corybantic Chris Copeland, one of the more fun-and-hard-to-watch players in the NBA. Up five points, Nene drove inside the 3-point line and stopped on a dime, holding the ball up and wasting a few more of Indiana’s final thirty seconds.

It’s always discouraging to see a basketball team give up a huge lead, and merely escape rather than dominate an inferior opponent. After a blowout in Toronto that deflated even the most helium-happy of hearts, the win against the Pacers would do little to correct the sentiment. John Wall seemed to sense that disappointment after the game:

“We have to develop that killer instinct. At the start of the third quarter, you’re up 18, you want to move it to 30 just to try to take the life out of them. We gave them an opportunity.”

But it’s more than a killer instinct. Often, this team needs a plan. While Wall found plenty of open shooters in the second half only to watch them miss shots he’d expect them to make, the Wizards needed added direction during Indiana’s run, and never got it. Washington’s inability to defend the Raptors’ onslaught, or to mount a comeback, in Toronto the night before only adds to the sentiment. While Wittman called Washington’s performance against the Raptors “soft” and the performance against the Pacers “focused,” the reality was that both games featured the same inability to cope with a team that was heating up. While Frank Vogel, by exploiting Solomon Hill’s matchup on Garrett Temple, brought his team all the way back, Wittman’s team went away from their best first-half scorer in favor of an ice-cold Paul Pierce.

This win counts like any other, but feels about half as good.


The Bullets.

  • John Wall shot 40 percent on midrange jump shots against the Pacers. He’s shooting better than 40 percent on the season as well, shooting 47.1 percent from 10-14 feet, and 41.9 percent from 15-19 feet.
  • Solomon Hill‘s 28 points was a career high. Each of the games against the Pacers this season has featured a career-high for an opposing player, with Donald Sloan getting the nod last Wednesday with 31 points.
  • Garrett Temple is cooling off from deep. He shot 1-for-3 against the Pacers, and 0-for-5 against the Raptors on 3-pointers.



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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.