George scores 29 to lead Pacers to 89-81 win over WizardsBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Wed, Jan 2, 2013 11:10 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS -- Third-year swingman Paul George is continuing to do his best to make sure the Indiana Pacers don't suffer too much without Danny Granger. George continued his offensive surge, opening the new year by scoring 29 points in the Pacers' 89-81 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. "Happy to get a win, wasn't pretty, wasn't a blowout, an eight-point home win," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Give credit to Washington, they kept scratching and clawing. They keep fighting. It's not always pretty, but (we found) a way to win." Guard D.J. Augustin added 18 points and six assists for the Pacers. Jordan Crawford led the Wizards with 20 points. The Pacers have now won nine of their last 11 games, with the majority of those wins coming against teams with a losing record. The Wizards have dropped nine of their last 11 games. The schedule is about to change for the Pacers. Their next four games are against teams that have a chance to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. "It's exciting because we're playing good basketball and it's going to be an exciting test the next few games," Vogel said. "Boston and then Milwaukee. Then obviously two top teams in the East, Miami and New York next week. It's going to be fun." The Pacers opened the game with a quick 14-2 lead and led by 13 after the first quarter. The Pacers extended their lead to 17 at one point. "At the start of the game tonight, we just didn't seem to have it," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. Game over? Not even close. The Wizards are a struggling team, but they still compete. That's what they did in the second quarter when the Pacers went to their bench. The Pacers opened the second quarter with a 13-point lead, but it was quickly trimmed to nine points, then seven points, five points and eventually three points before Vogel started putting his starters back in the game. "I give our guys credit for fighting back," Wittman said. "But we have to keep teams from making runs on us. But we're going to still keep fighting." The Pacers never gave up the lead. In fact they quickly pushed it back up to 10 points less than a minute after Washington trimmed it to three. But just like they did in the first half, the Wizards didn't back down. The only difference this time is they came back against Indiana's starters. Rookie Bradley Beal's fastbreak layup made it 51-49 in favor of the Pacers. But George wasn't about to let the Pacers down. He scored his team's final four points to give them a nine-point edge heading into the final quarter. "Glad we got this win, but we have to look past this," George said. "We didn't do a good enough job executing. Luckily we made enough shots to win. We let them pressure us and get us out of stuff. We play tough teams coming up and that's not going to fly that easy." The Pacers only shot 37.7 percent from the field and turned the ball over 17 times. They know that work against the good teams. "To tell you the truth, we had a 17-point lead and we let that go," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. "We have to make sure we keep a lead and keep things going. A win is a win, but if you ask people in this locker room, I don't think that they are very satisfied with the win tonight." NOTES: Pacers point guard George Hill missed his second straight game with a right thigh contusion. Hill warmed up before the game, but his thigh was still tight, giving him problems exploding off of it. The Pacers didn't have to rush him back because they were playing the struggling Wizards. They play back-to-back games against Boston and Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday. D.J. Augustin got his second straight start at point guard. ... Former Butler guard Shelvin Mack said he was surprised when the Wizards called him after they made him their final cut of training camp. "It was a little weird," he said. ... The Dec. 26 game between the Pacers and Chicago Bulls has been rescheduled for Feb. 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The game was postponed because of poor weather conditions in Indianapolis. The rescheduled game means the Pacers will be playing back-to-back-to-back games in February.
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