WASHINGTON: Paul George and Roy Hibbert combined for 43 second half points as the Indiana Pacers put the Washington Wizards on the brink of elimination with a 95-92 win on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
The Wizards led by 19 points in the third quarter and appeared to be en route to leveling the best-of-seven NBA playoff series when the wheels fell off in the second half.
George tallied 28 second-half points for the Pacers, who lead the Eastern Conference series 3-1.
“I was just in a rhythm and it carried out through the whole game,” said George, who finished with 39 points and 12 rebounds. “I was able to knock some shots down.”
George Hill scored 15 and David West scored 14 points for the Pacers in the Mother’s Day contest in front of a crowd of 20,356 at the Verizon Center arena in the US capital.
“It is about us executing offensively because we have complete and absolute trust in our defence,” West said.
Hibbert appears to have discovered his form after struggling early in the postseason.
“He found himself,” George said of Hibbert. “He has been winning games because he has been playing at a high level.”
Hibbert finished with 17 points and nine rebounds and made a huge hook shot with 1:02 left in the fourth to give the Pacers a 94-91 lead.
After a series of empty possessions, Wizards’ Bradley Beal and Pacers’ Hill each made one of two shots from the free-throw line. Hill’s miss with six seconds remaining gave the Wizards one chance to force overtime.
But Washington failed to get a shot off as Trevor Ariza botched an inbounds pass.
Beal helped pace the Wizard’s attack with 20 points. Ariza had 16 in the loss.
The team made half of their field goal attempts through the first three quarters. But they shot just 29 percent from the floor in the final quarter.
“I’m not blaming any of this on any youth or inexperience or who has been in the playoffs and who hasn’t,” said Wizards head coach Randy Wittman. “That’s just an excuse.”
Game five is Tuesday in Indianapolis.