NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 28th (All times Eastern)
Indiana Pacers (52-20) at Washington Wizards (36-35), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - With a second straight Central Division title in tow and confidence brimming after a big win over Miami, the Indiana Pacers can shift their focus on capturing the East's top seed.
The Pacers will continue their quest for conference supremacy when they visit the playoff-hopeful Washington Wizards Friday at the Verizon Center.
Indiana proved to a nationally televised audience that it can play defense and defeated the Heat 84-83 Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pacers newcomer Evan Turner was thrust into action when Lance Stephenson was ejected after receiving two technical fouls and hit the go-ahead shot with 1:30 remaining.
David West capped a decisive 8-0 run down the stretch on a 3-pointer -- just his fourth of the season -- with 30. 2 seconds on the clock. Heat center Chris Bosh hit a 3-pointer to make it 84-83 and Pacers guard George Hill missed two foul shots. Bosh had another look at the basket, but his shot was off the mark.
The win captured the Pacers' second straight division crown and sixth in franchise history. It also put them three games ahead of Miami for the East's top spot. Paul George led Indiana with 23 points and struggled at times to guard Heat star LeBron James, who had 38 points and made 14-of-15 free throws.
"It's one game ... but this is one step closer to playing good basketball to end this year up," George said.
Roy Hibbert, who is questionable Friday with a head issue, scored 21 points in the win. Indiana won despite shooting 37 percent and making 7-of-14 3- pointers. But it scored 26 points off 19 Miami turnovers.
Indiana is first in opponents' scoring (91.7 ppg) and teams are shooting an NBA-low 41.7 percent from the floor. Indiana has kept the last six opponents under 100 points, including four in a row below 90. The last time the Pacers held an opposing team under 90 points in five straight games was during a six- game run from Nov. 19-28, 2003, when they limited the opposition to under 80.
The Pacers will try to stop a three-game road losing streak in Washington and are 19-16 as the visitor. They will visit Cleveland Sunday.
Washington has lost two straight, four of five and six of its last nine games, and will resume a three-game homestand Friday.
The Wizards fell to 17-17 at home with Wednesday's 99-93 setback to the Phoenix Suns, as John Wall's 29 points weren't enough to get his team back on track. Marcin Gortat scored 17 points for Washington, which is sixth in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games behind Brooklyn and 1 1/2 ahead of Charlotte.
"We didn't have any intensity," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. "We just show up and see what the game is like and decide how hard we're going to play. That's what we've got to clean up."
Trevor Ariza recorded 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists in defeat. Bradley Beal was held to eight points, but is still averaging 18.4 points in his previous 12 games.
Washington will wrap up the stay Saturday versus Atlanta and looks to salvage the season series with Indiana, which has won the first two meetings with both games played in the Hoosier State. The Pacers are 11-1 in the past 12 against the Wizards and 4-1 over the last five trips to D.C.
03/28 10:29:19 ET