WASHINGTON: The red-hot Washington Wizards kept their win streak alive with a 96-94 overtime victory on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) over the short-handed Indiana Pacers thanks to a 31-point and three-steal performance by John Wall.
Wall also had 10 assists and a half dozen rebounds for the Wizards, who stretched their streak to four consecutive victories.
“You just got to find a way to win,” Wall said. “I was being aggressive, taking the shots that were there for me.”
Wall scored six straight points to erase an 88-87 lead for the Pacers in the overtime and then all Washington had to do was hang on down the stretch.
Wall said he knew he had to step up his game down the stretch and in the extra session in front of a crowd of 15,268 at the Verizon Center arena.
“I put in a lot of work to be able to make those shots. Their big men hang back a bit and so they want you to take those shots. This was one of those nights where I had to be extra aggressive, especially going into the overtime,” he said.
The Pacers were without Paul George, George Hill, CJ Watson, David West and Rod Stuckey. They lost Lance Stephenson in the off-season after he went to Charlotte.
Roy Hibbert and Chris Copeland both missed chances in the closing seconds of overtime with the Pacers trailing by just two points.
Garrett Temple hit four three-pointers and finished with 16 points and seven rebounds and Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, who brought in Paul Pierce this season to be their small forward in place of Trevor Ariza.
The same two teams met in last season’s playoff quarterfinals, in which the Pacers eliminated the Wizards in six games.
Wall said his team has something to prove after the way the season ended last year.
“Last year we didn’t do a good job of taking care of our home court,” Wall said. “I think they took the lead at one point tonight and we came out and made big shots. We remember what happened in the playoffs last year and we don’t want to go through that again.”
Donald Sloan, who tallied a career-high 31 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds, netted the final seven Indiana points in regulation to force overtime.
Copeland came off the bench to finish with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Solomon Hill provided 14 points and eight rebounds for the 1-4 Pacers, who are off to their worst start since the 1996-97 squad began 1-5.
“This was another game the defense won for us,” said Wizards coach Randy Wittman.