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Pacers stifle Wizards to take 2-1 series lead
Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Behind a stellar defensive effort and a third-quarter outburst, the Indiana Pacers seized control of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Washington Wizards.
Indiana outscored the Wizards by 14 points in the third quarter and held Washington to a franchise-low scoring total for a playoff game en route to an 85-63 triumph in Game 3 from Verizon Center.
Paul George poured in 23 points, including seven in the third quarter as the Pacers turned a one-point halftime lead into a 60-45 cushion heading into the final frame.
"We've gotten to this point because of defense," George said. "And that's what we did tonight."
Roy Hibbert tallied 14 points and five rebounds while David West donated 12 points for the Pacers, who grabbed a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Bradley Beal led Washington with 16 points and Trevor Ariza added 12 points and 15 boards, but the Wizards shot just 32.9 percent from the floor -- including 4-of-16 from 3-point range -- in dropping their second straight game.
"This was a clunker for us," Washington head coach Randy Wittman admitted. "There's no doubt about it."
John Wall tallied 15 points and six assists, but committed seven of Washington's 18 turnovers in the setback.
The Wizards will look to get back on track when they host Game 4 on Sunday.
After both teams sputtered throughout the first half, Beal threw down an alley-oop slam just over 2 1/2 minutes into the third quarter, bringing the Washington faithful to their feet and getting the Wizards within 37-36.
It would be the last time the home crowd had anything to cheer about.
George Hill and George answered Beal's bucket with back-to-back 3-pointers, sparking a 21-5 surge that provided the Pacers with a 58-41 spread with just under 1 1/2 minutes left in the third.
George scored all seven of his third-quarter points during the push, which Lance Stephenson capped with a reverse layup for a 17-point Indiana advantage.
Beal supplied Washington's first nine points in the fourth to keep the Wizards within striking distance, but an 8-0 Indiana sprint -- capped by consecutive triples from George and Hill -- gave the Pacers a 78-58 lead with 1:43 to play.
Early on, Washington grabbed seven offensive rebounds and scored eight second- chance points in the first quarter, but went just 7-of-23 from the floor for the frame to head into the second with the tilt tied at 17-17.
The Wizards opened the second on a 7-2 swing and led 27-20 after Drew Gooden split two free throws with 5:43 left in the half.
However, Indiana answered with a 13-1 spurt, which Hill capped with a 3- pointer for a 33-28 lead.
Ariza countered with a triple of his own and after George went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe, Wall got a layup to fall to send the Wizards into the break trailing by one.
Washington's previous playoff low point total was 75, set in Game 5 of this year's first round against Chicago ... Washington is 0-5 since its last second-round win at home, which came back on May 18, 1979 against San Antonio ... Luis Scola supplied 11 points off the bench for Indiana ... The Pacers shot 31-of-74 from the floor, including 7-of-15 from 3-point range.
05/09 23:51:11 ET