The Washington Wizards returned home tonight and broke a 44-44 tie at halftime to dominate the second half and crush the Indiana Pacers 104-90. The Wizards outscored the Pacers 60-46 in the second half, including a 32-23 domination in the 4th quarter. The Wizards were coached by assistant Randy Wittman tonight, as Flip Saunders was in Cleveland, Ohio to tend to his ailing mother. The win improves Washington's record to 8-22, second-worst in the Eastern Conference. All eight wins have come at home. The Pacers fell to 13-17.
Neither team shot well -- the Wizards hit less than 40% of their shots and the Pacers only 41% -- but Washington won the battle at the free throw line [17 to 12], on the boards [54 to 47], as well as assists [24 to 17], steals [9 to 6], turnovers [9 to 17] and blocks [11 to 7]. The 21 to 13 advantage on the offensive glass helped the Wizards take 13 more shots than the Pacers, enabling them to win despite a poor shooting night. The 9 turnovers is a season-low for the Wizkids, as are the 21 offensive rebounds.
Indiana was on the tail end of a back-to-back, which perhaps explains their tailspin in the 4th quarter, as they allowed the Wizards to shoot over 50% from the field in the fourth. Andray Blatche scored 10 of his 22 points in the final period. Javale McGee overcame early foul trouble to record his team-high 8th double-double of the season, 16 points and 10 boards in less than 22 minutes of play. More impressive was McGee's defense on Indiana's formidable center Roy Hibbert [5 points, 4 rebounds 5 fouls], who dominated McGee last season. Nick Young scored a game-high 25 points on 26 shots, but his 9 rebounds, 3 steals and only one turnover were more impressive. Newcomer Rashard Lewis scored 10 points and grabbed 6 boards in 33 minutes and his +19 court ratio was tops for either team tonight.
Perhaps the real story of the night, however, was the still-gimpy John Wall coming off the bench to play 35 minutes after starting PG Kirk Hinrich was injured [thigh contustion] in the first quarter. Wall doesn't look close to healthy and he shot poorly, missing 8 of 12 shots. However, he ran the team well, grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing 12 assists in his most extensive play since coming back from an injury that cost him 5 games.
Also critical off the bench was Cartier Martin, who scored 11 points in just over 13 minutes by hitting 4 of 6 shots, including all 3 of his 3-pointers.
Washington paid a lot of attention to Indiana's best player and leading scorer Danny Granger, who was held to 15 points on 18 shots, well below his 21 ppg average.
The Wizards turn around and play the Pacers in Indiana on Friday, New Year's Eve -- the team's final game of the calendar year.
Nick Young - 25 [10 of 26 shooting] Andray Blatche - 22 [9 of 23 shooting]
Andray Blatche - 11 Javale McGee - 10
John Wall - 12