The Wizards missed three shots to take the lead or force overtime in the final 20 seconds and fell to the Pacers 98-95 on Sunday, dropping to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings in the process.
The Wizards got off to a slow start. They only made a third of their shots in the first quarter, and it would have been much worse if Markieff Morris had not started the game on a roll. The Pacers took advantage of Washington’s early misses to set a quick tempo. Victor Oladipo pushed the ball aggressively off Washington misses generating easy layups and free throws on the other end to help Indiana get out to an early lead.
Scott Brooks brought Otto Porter in with the reserves to start the second quarter, and the move helped Washington erase Indiana’s early double-digit lead. He made three steals in less than four minutes and made some good moves as the team’s primary facilitator with the second unit.
The Pacers fired back when Oladipo and former Wizard Bojan Bogdanovic re-entered the game. They combined to score 30 points in the first half and got the Pacers back out to a ten-point lead going into halftime.
The Wizards couldn’t do anything to cut into that lead in the third quarter. The Pacers were helping off Tomas Satoransky and Markieff Morris and daring a clearly gassed Bradley Beal to beat them while trying to cover Oladipo on the other end.
Washington started the fourth quarter down by 15, but made a late surge as Beal caught a second wind. He scored 13 in the final frame after only scoring 9 through the first three quarters. Brooks played him along with Mike Scott and Jodie Meeks, who unlocked the spacing the team needed to get going after struggling for most of the game.
Beal’s tired legs finally caught up with him in the final minute. He missed a layup in transition with 20 seconds that would have put the Wizards on top. Then, after Oladipo split a pair of free throws, Beal missed an open runner in the paint that would have tied the game with 10 seconds left. He got one last chance after Cory Joseph split another pair of free throws, but his 3-point attempt rimmed out as Washington picked up their third-straight loss.
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Washington only scored 95 points on 21 assists. Both numbers are the lowest Washington has posted since John Wall went down with an injury. The Pacers’ decidedly average defense was able to mimic the blueprint the Warriors and Raptors have used in recent games to disrupt the Wizards’ ball movement and force Beal into more difficult shots.
Over the last three games, he is averaging just 17.7 points per game even though he’s averaging nearly 40 minutes per game during the stretch. He’s shot just 31.1 percent from the field and made only 7 of his 24 3-pointers.
Beal has responded by distributing more, including an eleven assist performance in this game, but it puts a lot of pressure him to deliver in a lot of areas and the strain is starting to show.
- Kelly Oubre missed the game with a sore foot. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, but it will be interesting to monitor whether or not Washington makes a move to add some extra depth on the wings, especially considering Ramon Sessions’ 10-day contract expires on Sunday evening.
- Washington is now 8-12 in games where Beal has played over 40 minutes.
- The Wizards’ bench had a nice bounceback game after they were throttled by Toronto on Friday. They outscored Indiana even though Oubre missed the game.
- Tomas Satoransky only had 1 assist in 22 minutes, the fewest assists he’s had in a game since his 13 minute appearance in John Wall’s last game before he underwent knee surgery.
Next up: The Wizards are back in action on Tuesday as they host the Heat at 7 p.m.