Brooks swapped out Thomas Bryant at center for Bobby Portis, who tipped the game off against Kyle O’Quinn, who was filling in for the injured Myles Turner. The Wizards gave him plenty of opportunities to get in a rhythm early. He took six shots in the first eight minutes of the game but the rest of the offense couldn’t get in sync as Indiana took an early lead.
Things got interesting late in the first quarter when Bryant entered the game and faced off against Domantas Sabonis, who stayed in his bench role despite Turner’s injury. Bryant took the challenge head-on and played with an intensity that gave the team a spark.
LOL Thomas Bryant was very close to punching the ref with his celebration: pic.twitter.com/oYGUPRKeOD— Tony East (@TEastNBA) February 24, 2019
A bevy of turnovers undercut Bryant’s impressive play. Jabari Parker was the main culprit. He coughed it up five times in the first half alone. Although the Pacers weren’t converting many of the turnovers into quick points on the other end, the sheer volume of extra shots they got by not turning it over helped them create a 15-point lead going into halftime.
The Pacers went up 16 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter after a Wes Matthews 3-pointer. The game was in serious risk of going into garbage time until Washington turned back to their bench for another spark. Bryant produced again, but unlike the first half, the Pacers were the ones who turned the ball over at inopportune times.
The Wizards went on a 14-7 run to close the third quarter and opened the fourth quarter on a 17-9 run, capped by an amazing four-point play by Bradley Beal to make it a two-point game.
Parker hit a 3-pointer that would have put Washington out in front, except that he was out of bounds when he shot it. Matthews pounced on the turn of events and buried a 3-pointer on the other end to quell the run and put Indiana back up by five.
It seemed like the game was over at that point, but the Wizards had one last run in them. They ran some successful traps in the final minute of the game to trim an eleven-point deficit down to three and got the ball back with a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds. Bryant got an open look in transition, but his shot was off.
The Pacers hit their free throws the rest of the way to hand Washington their fourth-straight loss and send them 12 games under .500 for the season.
The lineup switch may not stick for long
Now that the Wizards have reached the point in the season where they can experiment more with lineups, you can understand the decision to give Bobby Portis some run in the starting lineup to see what he could do, but all this game did is reinforce that Bryant is the superior option at center most of the time. Even though Portis got a more favorable matchup going against nominal starter Kyle O’Quinn, Bryant had a much better night going against Sabonis, finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 4 steals in 31 minutes of action.
Another great Beal game wasted
It’s hard to follow up scoring 46 points in 42 minutes, but Beal did just about everything he could to try anyway. He had 35 points on 22 shots, 6 assists, and only 2 turnovers while playing 41 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back against the second-best defense in the league. He’s the first player to score at least 35 on Indiana this season without turning the ball over at least three times.
The Wizards’ defense is not getting better
I could tell you about it, but this video says it all.
Nice two-man game from Wes Matthews and Kyle O'Quinn. Impressive chemistry given how little they have played together. pic.twitter.com/c2CWNUkCuj— Tony East (@TEastNBA) February 24, 2019
Next up: Washington gets the next three nights off before traveling to Brooklyn to face the Nets on Wednesday at 7:30 pm Eastern Time.