Pacers hit the road with big win over Wizards

Jason Haddix, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Pacers' first quarter dominance in nearly every statistical category paved the way for their NBA-leading 15th win as they prepare to embark on a lengthy road trip.
Forward Paul George scored 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 93-73 victory Friday, ending the Washington Wizards' three-game winning streak.
"We came out ready to play and with a sense of urgency," George said. "This was a game we needed to win to prepare for our West coast trip. The next couple of weeks will be tough. We have to be ready mentally and physically."
Guard George Hill and center Roy Hibbert scored 13 points each for the Pacers (15-1), who extended their winning streak to six.
Washington (8-8) was led by center Marcin Gorat's double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Guard John Wall was held to eight points (11.5 points below his season average of 19.5 per game) on 4-of-14 shooting from the field.
"Had a bad night shooting," Wall said. "I had shots I have been making in the past, just didn't make (them) tonight."
The opening six minutes was a battle between two teams on winning streaks, but the final six minutes of the first quarter was all Pacers.
The Eastern Conference-leading Pacers took control when guard Lance Stephenson found George cutting across the baseline for a layup, giving the Pacers a 13-12 lead.
Hill then scored the next five for the Pacers. He led all scorers in the first half with 10 points.
Indiana went on a 15-2 run to close the quarter leading 28-14.
Stephenson was held to seven points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field but manageed a double-double with a team-high 10 assists and 11 rebounds.
"Lance is going to be a valuable asset to this team," George said. "We know that he can pass, he can shoot and he can rebound."
Orlando Johnson came in for Stephenson with three minutes remaining in the game after he got a put-back layup followed by his third foul on the next play. He left three points shy of a triple-double.
"I love to see guys get triple doubles," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "I was trying to prevent him from getting it the wrong way - 10 turnovers."
He had eight, a career high.
The sluggish Wizards woke up in the second quarter with George, Hibbert and David West spending more time on the bench than on the court in the second quarter. Guard Eric Maynor's 3-of-4 shooting from the field and seven points pulled Washington within seven heading into halftime.
Second-quarter troubles are nothing new for the Pacers. They had been outscored 368-299 before Friday's game. Their 15 points are tied for third lowest for the season.
In the second quarter, the Pacers were a dismal 6-of-23 shooting (26.1 percent) and the Wizards made 10 of 18 (55.6 percent).
Much like Indiana's previous games, it woke up after halftime to put the game essentially out of reach by shooting 55 percent (11-of-20).
"They came out in the second half with a better focus and energy than us," Gortat said. "We came out flat. We even talked about it in the locker room."
Before the game Vogel said keeping tabs on Wall would be key for the Pacers victory. He wanted the speedy point guard to see a wall of white jerseys greeting him as he cross into the frontcourt.
"This is the John Wall show," he said. "All five of our guys got to have great urgency, not only loading up to him, but getting matched up because he is as good at finding people as he is getting to the rim in transitions."
The Pacers followed the game plan nearly to perfection holding Washington to no fast break points.
"We played the game at our pace, got back and were stopping them at mid court." West said. "This is a good. We must continue to play our game on the road trip."
NOTES: The Pacers entered Friday's game with 120 blocks to lead the NBA, led by C Roy Hibbert's league-leading 59 (3.93 bpg). ... Pacers G George Hill scored his 4,000th point late in the first quarter and G C.J. Watson had his 1,000th assist early in the second. ... The Pacers' second unit scored a season-best 37 points in their last game against the Charlotte Bobcats, led by Watson's 18 points. ... The Wizards entered the game having won five of their last six after starting the season losing seven of their first nine. ... Wizards G John Wall was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for Nov. 18-24. Wall averaged 24.3 points, 8.5 assists and 2.75 steals in the four games to lead Washington to a 3-1 record. ... Entering the game, Washington is 21-57 in games played against Indiana on the Pacers' home court. Its last win came on April 18, 2007 (98-95). ... F Nene was out of the Wizards' starting lineup with a sore right Achilles tendon.

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