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Pacers rally past Wizards, take 3-1 lead in series
Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Paul George put the Pacers on his back and got some help from fellow All-Star Roy Hibbert in carrying Indiana to a remarkable 95-92 comeback victory over the suddenly reeling Washington Wizards in Game 4 on Sunday.
The Wizards were seemingly on their way to evening this Eastern Conference semifinal series when they led by 19 early in the third quarter, but George and Hibbert combined for 43 points in the second half to put Washington on the brink of elimination.
Twenty-eight of those points came from George, who made big basket after big basket and even grabbed 12 rebounds for the Pacers.
"I was just in a rhythm and it carried out through the whole game," said George, who connected on 12-of-20 from the field. "I was able to knock some shots down."
Hibbert finished with 17 points and nine rebounds and made a huge turnaround hook shot with 62 seconds remaining to give the Pacers a 94-91 lead.
After a series of empty possessions, Bradley Beal and George Hill traded 1- for-2 showings at the foul line, as Hill's miss with 6.8 seconds remaining gave Washington one chance to force overtime.
The Wizards, however, never got a shot off.
Trevor Ariza threw away the ensuing inbounds pass, and Washington fell into a 3-1 deficit heading back to Indianapolis for an elimination game on Tuesday.
The Wizards made half of their field goal attempts through the first three quarters, then struggled to a 29.4 percent clip (29.4 percent) over the final 12 minutes.
The late struggles overshadowed a balanced attack that saw six players score in double figures, led by Beal's 20 points and Ariza's 16.
"I'm not blaming any of this on any youth or inexperience or who has been in the playoffs and who hasn't," Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said of the letdown. "That's just an excuse."
George and Hibbert were both essential in Washington's gut-wrenching loss.
Hibbert erupted for nine points during a 12-0 Indiana surge with under four minutes remaining in the third quarter, including a tip-in that pulled the Pacers within 70-68.
George's fourth 3-pointer of the quarter cut the deficit to 72-71 heading to the fourth, and the tension in the Verizon Center reached a boiling point when George put in a floater and a subsequent free throw to even things at 74-74.
The Wizards cooly answered with the next nine points, but two straight George 3-pointers quelled the momentum and kept the Pacers within striking distance.
Two George free throws with 2:24 remaining capped an 8-1 stretch and gave Indiana its first lead since the start of the second quarter.
Josh Wall's successful trip to the foul line sent the Wizards back in front, 91-90, only to have George put two in from the stripe at the other end.
Hibbert challenged Wall at the rim and forced him into a miss, Drew Gooden airballed a 3-point try just before the shot clock expired, and Hibbert put in the aforementioned hook shot that proved to be the difference.
Both offenses were clicking in the first quarter, as the Pacers made seven of their first eight shots while the Wizards matched them bucket for bucket.
Things changed in the second, with Washington getting uncontested points in transition as Indiana struggled to find the rhythm that came easy early on.
The Wizards scored the first 12 points of the frame, highlighted by an emphatic Martell Webster slam off Andre Miller's halfcourt lob. The arena- shaking dunk gave Washington a 38-27 cushion, and Wall's around-the-back scoop in the closing seconds off Gooden's third block of the half sent the hosts into the break with a healthy 55-38 lead.
Washington, two days after making 24 field goals all of Game 3, connected on 23-of-42 from the field in the opening half, with 18 of its points on coming on the fastbreak.
The Wizards, though, did not score a single point in transition after the break.
In all six of their previous postseason victories, the Pacers had held the opposition under 90 points ... Washington's bench outscored Indiana's reserves, 32-2 ... Indiana overcame 20 turnovers and 10 missed free throws ... Indiana received 15 points from Hill and 14 from David West.
05/11 23:45:32 ET
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