WASHINGTON, D.C. – Playoff implications surrounded the Indiana Pacers (36-27) again on Sunday. Again, the Blue and Gold emerged with an important victory.
Indy never trailed versus the Washington Wizards (36-28), but held their breath until the very end after a 15-point lead dwindled in a 98-95 win at Capital One Arena. The Pacers’ win moves them into the four spot in the Eastern Conference standings, a half game clear of Washington. Indiana is right in the hunt for the three seed, as well, now just a half game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for that spot.
The Pacers set the tone quickly on Sunday, jumping out to a 30-20 lead after one. Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic led the charge, combining for 19 points in the game’s first 12 minutes.
Quarter number two was about runs. The Wizards got themselves back into the game with an impressive 12-0 run, cutting Indy’s advantage down to one. Indiana swung back, however, using a 10-2 run to immediately pull away a bit again. The Blue and Gold then scored the final seven points of the half, going into the break with a 55-45 lead.
Washington never really threatened in the third quarter. The Pacers closed the frame on a 13-5 run, leaving the visitors with a healthy 80-65 edge going into the fourth.
The Wiz sure did make Indiana sweat down the stretch, though.
Washington scored the first ten points of the quarter, making it just a five-point game in a flash. The Pacers kept the Wizards at bay for a bit, but the home team cut it to two points with 4:25 remaining. Oladipo would provide an answer, knocking down consecutive shots to push Indy’s lead back up to six with 3:23 to go.
Indiana just could not put away the Wizards, though, as a pair of Bradley Beal free throws made it a 96-95 game with 36.6 seconds left. Washington did not score again.
Beal missed. Oladipo nailed one of two free throws. Beal missed again. Cory Joseph hit one more free throw. Two missed three-point attempts from the Wizards in the last five seconds ended this one, with Indiana escaping with a good win.
Oladipo had himself another great night. The former IU standout finished with 33 points and seven rebounds. Myles Turner recorded a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. All five Pacer starters scored in double figures, while Indy’s second unit combined for just 17 points.
The Blue and Gold will play in the second half of a back-to-back in Indianapolis on Monday night. Indiana will battle the Milwaukee Bucks again, with another chance to extend their lead over their division rivals in the playoff standings. Game time is 7:00 p.m.