Here's your recap roundup for the Washington Wizards 104-85 win Saturday over the Indiana Pacers. John Wall put on a show for the 1978 championship Bullets team, which was honored during a halftime ceremony as part of the team's 35th anniversary commemoration of its lone title. For more coverage, check out our StoryStream along with these postgame interviews with Randy Wittman, John Wall and Garrett Temple, courtesy of Monumental Network.
A new, larger championship banner was lifted at halftime of a game that the current Wizards won easily, 104-85, over the visiting Indiana Pacers, as John Wall scored a game-high 37 points. Unseld was the last player to enter the court to a standing ovation during the halftime ceremony and fans had the chance to applaud Irene Pollin, Abe's widow, and their sons, Robert and Jim; former coach Dick Motta, former general manager Bob Ferry, and players Elvin Hayes, Bobby Dandridge, Phil Chenier, Phil Walker, Greg Ballard, Joe Pace, Larry Wright, Kevin Grevey, Tom Henderson, former trainer John Lally, and former executive vice president Jerry Sachs.
"We talked before the game. We had a number of these guys that come back in here and they know who these guys are," Wittman said. "It's just not a name or a face anymore. That's the unique thing that is different than a lot of different teams I've been on. ... To have players from that generation hang around, come to practice, not just the games. We got guys that come to practice, stand up there on the railing at the practice court and watch us, shake our guys hands, kick them in the ass if they're not playing good. I like that. And I think our players like that."
Wall scored a runner off the wrong foot. He corralled a loose ball, eluded Roy Hibbert's futile swipe at the ball, took off down the floor then went behind his back to elude George Hill for a layup to kick off an 18-2 run. He lofted a teardrop up and over the outstretched arms of the 7-foot-2 Hibbert for a 28-20 lead. He delivered a huge block on the Pacers center, and the crowd of 19,360 was incredulous that a similar effort against Paul George was whistled for a foul.
Wall's top-notch play is likely to have many Washington fans thinking "what if?" Even Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel seemed to think the Wizards could have had a shot at the postseason had Wall been healthy from the start.
"I think they are a playoff team right now," Vogel said.
Wall didn't play when the Wizards went 0-3 against the Pacers earlier this season because he was out until early January with a knee injury. Indiana coach Frank Vogel made his players acutely aware of that fact before the game, writing on the board: ''He's a difference maker.''
''He was too much for us to handle tonight,'' Vogel said.
"John Wall is becoming a very sensational player and he was too much for us to handle," Pacers Coach Frank Vogel said. "Wall has a similar progression to what Derrick Rose experienced a couple years ago. It was his first year in the league he played hard and in the paint, but when he added that jump shot he was unstoppable. When playing against him, you have to get your whole team back on transition defense."
John Wall did not take long to get going in a very competitive first half. He scored 15 points in the first quarter, and 26 in the half to tie his career high as the Wizards led by three at the break. The second half was no contest though as the Wizards dominated it the whole way. They opened the half on a 12-0 run and never looked back, leading by as many as 20 and eventually winning by 19. The win means the Wizards have now beaten seven of the eight Eastern Conference playoff teams with a chance to get the eighth tomorrow against Boston. The Wizards had not beaten the Pacers since December of 2010.
Wall finished the game with 37 points on 16/25 shooting, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Kevin Seraphin gave the Wizards a nice boost off the bench. His 15 points on 7-10 shooting, and 4 boards were valuable with Nene in foul trouble. Martell Webster also had a nice game with 13 points.
Watching Wall has been a pleasure so far. He is faster than any player I've seen in the league. And now we're seeing how he's learned to use that speed controllably and it's scary just how his potential is oozing onto the court. His confidence level is rising and rising fast. Wall's performance on a night where the 1978 Washington Bullets championship team was honored was indicative of the near future of this franchise.
Defense was also a big part of the story. The Pacers opened the third quarter 1 for 9 shooting from the field and by the end of the quarter had built a 77-66 lead. In the fourth quarter the Pacers started 0 for 8 from the field. Roy Hibbert had 25 points and 10 rebounds, but All Star Paul George only had two points and was 0 for 8 from the field.
The Wizards blitzed out to a 26-12 lead, which isn't entirely surprising when looking at how drastically improved the Wizards have been in Wall's return, but aside from Indiana's 26-11 run to take the lead, they had nothing for Washington at any point tonight, and looked shell shocked that the Wizards weren't the same team they beat three times earlier in the season. The Pacers struggled offensively for a second straight now, but were even worse defensively, as Wall just carved up the Pacers, finishing the night with 37 points.
Wall played like he didn't want the Pacers wrapping up the division on his court in the nation's capital.
Not on a night where Washington celebrated the 35th anniversary of its 1978 title team. Not when Wall continues to prove his absence is why the Wizards struggled this season. Washington is 24-19 with Wall in the lineup.
Wall - like Westbrook - dominated the Pacers guards.
Hibbert would have happily been held scoreless against the Wizards for an opportunity to celebrate a Central Division title. The loss kept the Pacers from winning the division.
Hibbert had 14 points in the first quarter and 17 in the first half. But he scored only eight points on five shot attempts in the second half.
Giving up 100 points to the Thunder is something I can see happening. That's the second highest scoring team in the league. But 104 points by the Washington Wizards. A Wizards team that's only averaging 93 points per game. To give up 37 points by one player, John Wall. He was able to do whatever he wanted to do out there. They might as well just played John Wall, and he could have beat the Pacers with as bad as they looked last night.