WASHINGTON (AP) — Although consistency continues to elude them, the Washington Wizards have been playing winning basketball for a solid month and have a reasonable chance of sneaking into the playoffs.
The Indiana Pacers are quickly heading in the opposite direction.
Bradley Beal scored 25 points, Jeff Green added 23 to lead another productive night from Washington’s bench, and the Wizards beat the reeling Pacers 107-89 on Wednesday night.
Green had 16 points in the first half to help spell Beal, who came in second in the NBA in minutes at 37.2 per game, and the Wizards’ reserves scored 58 points. Washington’s second unit also led a fourth-quarter rally that just fell short against Cleveland a night earlier.
“In order to make the playoffs, be in the playoffs, succeed in the playoffs, you’ve got to have a good bench,” Beal said. “They did an excellent job the last two nights of carrying us, pretty much.”
Thaddeus Young scored 13 points for the Pacers. They are 0-3 since a victory over Toronto in which leading scorer Victor Oladipo suffered a season-ending knee injury — their first three-game skid of the season.
“It’s just low energy right now. We’ve kind of lost our way here, and we’ve got to find it. Vic is not coming back. We’ve got to move past that and not look at what we don’t have and focus on what we do have,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “But we’ve got to get more energy in the game. Defensively, we’re not stopping anybody.”
Indiana dropped to fourth place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind Philadelphia and a half-game ahead of fifth-place Boston.
The Pacers could easily fall further if McMillan can’t find a way to compensate for the absence of Oladipo, who averaged 18.8 points per game. The Pacers were held to a season low in points and lacked a go-to scorer, with Bojan Bogdanovic, Doug McDermott and TJ Leaf chipping in 12 apiece.
“We’ve just got to play defence, and then offence will come. Defence gets us into transition and into what we need to do as a team. We’re getting stuck in half-court sets, and teams are locking in on that,” Young said. “At the end of the day, even when Vic went out early in the season, we were still playing defence, we were still locking down.”