West, Pacers punish Wizards in the paint, win 93-66

Friday, January 10, 2014
Pacers guard Lance Stephenson scores on a reverse layup in the second quarter against Washington on Friday.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Pacers dominated near the basket and forced the visiting Wizards to shoot less than 30 percent in their 93-66 win on Friday.

Led by 14 from forward Paul George, Indiana outrebounded Washington 61-41 and held a 38-18 advantage in points in the paint.

"That was a sensational defensive effort," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. "(We) forced a lot of misses, and I think that's what led to the rebounding numbers more than anything. ... All our guys really stepped up on the defensive end."

The Pacers' (29-7) domination on the glass contributed indirectly to the differential in points near the basket. Indiana's wing players crashed the defense boards hard, then immediately looked to push it up the court.

While this didn't result in many fast break chances because the Wizards (16-18) abandoned offensive rebound chances and retreated immediately upon firing up a shot, it forced Washington to play energetic defense for more of the shot clock, which contributed to wearing them down.

"Our starting one (point guard George Hill), two (shooting guard Lance Stephenson) and three (George) all have the ability to play off the ball and with the ball," Vogel said. "They're great playmakers and they can all push it themselves."

When the Wizards weren't giving up points at the basket, they were committing fouls. The Pacers entered the game drawing 21.7 fouls, seventh-most in the NBA, but forced Washington into 25.

Forward David West, the recipient of four free throw attempts, led the Pacers with 20 points.

"The son of a gun could average 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) if he wanted to, but he's leading our team in sacrifice and team play," Vogel said. "The big reason that we have the record that we have right now is his sacrifice for this basketball team. It's really something special."

Backup point guard C.J. Watson had 16 points on a perfect day shooting, going six-for-six from the field, three-for-three on 3-point attempts and one-for-one at the line.

He also spelled Hill defensively and helped keep John Wall to just 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

"I'm just trying to take the shots that are open," Watson said. "And trying to attack and stay aggressive on defense."

The Pacers pulled out to a 45-37 lead at halftime, nearly insurmountable for a team that's 16-3 this season when leading at the half.

After shooting 34.1 percent in the first half, Indiana kept Washington to just 25 percent (5-for-20) in the third quarter before letting up defensively in the fourth.

"I couldn't be more proud of our guys' work at the defensive end," Vogel said. "You want to see a team come out and play as hard as any team you seen on the defensive end, come out and watch our basketball team because they care about that end of the court, they're having fun with it and they're working for each other."

The win against Washington was the first of four straight home games for the Pacers after playing three of their last five on the road. That, plus a Miami loss at Brooklyn on Friday, kept the Pacers in first place in Eastern Conference by 1.5 games.

Indiana next hosts Sacramento on Tuesday.

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