Harrison, who sprained his left ankle in the second quarter, scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth to lead the Pacers to a 99-93 win over Washington on Wednesday night.
“I never question Harrison’s toughness,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “If anything sometimes you have to convince him that he’s got to come out of the game. He’s a guy who loves to play.
“Last night at 7 o’clock I got a call that he was in the health club playing 5-on-5 with a bunch of 40- and 50-something-year-old guys. A couple of our staff people tried to get him off the court, and he wouldn’t come. I had to go down there myself and talk him out of playing.”
Harrison aggravated his ankle injury on his biggest basket of the night, a follow of Fred Jones’ missed layup just before the shot clock expired with 47 seconds remaining. Harrison limped downcourt, having given the Pacers a 97-91 lead. He finished 4-for-4 from the field and had nine rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes.
“He was making it seem like he was playing on one leg,” forward Jeff Foster said. “We were joking with him, saying he wasn’t limping when he was just running up and down the court, but whenever he did something good he was really emphasizing his limp to say: ‘I’m playing hurt, look.”’
The Pacers overcame an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to end the Wizards’ nine-game home winning streak and improve to 2-0 on their four-game road trip. Washington had won 10 straight at home against East teams.
Indiana entered the game a percentage point ahead of Washington for fifth place in the East. The Pacers’ victory ended the season series at 2-2, keeping the Wizards from clinching the first tiebreaker in determining playoff seeding.
Gilbert Arenas had 28 points, seven assists and four steals, and Antawn Jamison had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards, who moaned about the officiating for the second straight game. Coach Eddie Jordan said his team was distracted by questionable calls in Monday’s 108-98 loss at Memphis, and it happened again Wednesday.
“We have to learn to deal with adversity and not be distracted by missed calls or good defense being played against us,” Jordan said.
Antonio Daniels, perhaps the most mild-mannered player on the team, was particularly unhappy with a no-call when he shot an air ball on a 3-point attempt that could have tied the game with three minutes remaining.
“That was a call that didn’t go our way, and we have to pick our heads up and move forward. I’m trying not to get fined, in case you haven’t noticed,” said Daniels, doing his best to bite his tongue.
Still, the Wizards would have had a more manageable lead in the fourth quarter if they had made their free throws. Washington went 19-for-31 from the line, while Indiana was 26-for-26. The Wizards were also outrebounded 30-19 in the second half.
Trailing since the first quarter, the Pacers kept the deficit in single digits in the second half and took the lead in the fourth on Jackson’s 3-pointer off a feed from Jasikevicius during a 9-0 run. Jackson later hit a big basket with a turnaround after Caron Butler fell backward to the floor—no foul was called—and Harrison’s putback helped keep Washington in the final minute.
Arenas confirmed one of the Wizards’ worst-kept secrets, that he and Jamison have been invited by USA basketball director Jerry Colangelo to the camp that will be used to select the U.S. teams for the 2006 world championship and 2008 Olympics. Players often say the drawback to playing in those tournaments is the year-around commitment without much of a summer break, but Arenas is well-known for his nonstop approach to the game. “Like I told Colangelo, I’m going to be playing anyway if you don’t pick me,” Arenas said. “I’m training all year ‘round anyway, so it doesn’t affect me.” … Wizards F Andray Blatche also missed the game with the stomach flu. Butler, who left Washington’s last game with the same ailment, returned and scored six points on 3-for-14 shooting. … Wizards F Jared Jeffries left in the third quarter with a mild strain in his left calf.