Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Pacers make Wizards disappear

FOR ALL their mysterious slumps and chemistry curiosities, the Indiana Pacers are back where they were last season - in the Eastern Conference finals.

David West scored 29 points last night, and the Pacers blew a 16-point second-half lead before pulling away late in a 93-80 win that ousted the Washington Wizards in six games.

Next up, a rematch with the Miami Heat.

Lance Stephenson added 17 points and eight assists for the visiting Pacers, who earned a Game 1 at home against the two-time defending NBA champions on Sunday. Indiana took Miami to seven games in the conference finals a year ago.

Marcin Gortat scored 19 points, and John Wall had 12 points and nine assists for the Wizards, who ended their best playoff run in decades. Washington won a playoff series for the first time since 2005 and a second-round game for the first time since 1982. But the team was ultimately undone by an inability to win at home, going just 1-4 at the Verizon Center and 5-1 on the road in the playoffs.

The Wizards appeared to have a fix on the home-court demons when Bradley Beal stole a rebound from Roy Hibbert, then hit a 3-pointer at the other end to put the Wizards up 74-73 with 8 1/2 minutes to play.

But that was Washington's only lead of the second half. West answered with a pair of jumpers, including a tough fade-away, and Stephenson added a layup to start a decisive 20-6 run that included three Wizards turnovers in four possessions. Washington went five minutes without a point and scored only two field goals after Beal's go-ahead three.

The Pacers were 46-13 on March 2 before limping to the finish line, barely holding on to the conference's No. 1 seed. Things didn't look much better when Indy was pushed to seven games in the first round by eighth-seeded Atlanta, or when the Pacers lost Game 1 at home to the Wizards.

But Hibbert revived himself in Game 2, the defense held the Wizards to 63 points in Game 3, and Paul George went off for 39 points in Game 4. The ugly Pacers returned in a 23-point beatdown at home in Game 5.

But they pulled ahead early in the clincher by shooting 59 percent in the first half and holding the up-tempo Wizards without a fast-break point until the second half.

The Wizards had to reschedule a Lady Gaga concert to host the game, upsetting the singer's fans and prompting an apology from team owner Ted Leonsis.

Noteworthy

* The lawyer for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has informed the NBA that Sterling will not be paying the $2.5 million fine levied on him last month by commissioner Adam Silver, sources confirmed to ESPN.com last night. That fine was due this week, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. In a letter sent on Sterling's behalf, attorney Max Blecher also threatened to sue the league if Sterling is not afforded due process.

* The San Antonio Spurs say point guard Tony Parker has a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring and is listed as day-to-day. Parker had an MRI exam yesterday, one day after leaving Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals vs. Portland with the injury.

* Stan Van Gundy was formally introduced by the Detroit Pistons as their coach and president of basketball operations. Van Gundy agreed to a $35 million, 5-year contract.

* Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes his $25,000 fine for criticizing officials is money well spent. In fact, two people on the Clippers' front-office staff volunteered to help Rivers pay the bill after he ripped a key call in Los Angeles' 105-104 loss in Oklahoma City on Tuesday in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series.

The NBA levied the fine several hours before the Clippers faced playoff elimination in Game 6 against Oklahoma City at Staples Center yesterday.

"I thought it was deserved," Rivers said. "It's one of the rare times you actually earned one. I don't mind that."

* The NBA's board of governors unanimously approved the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks to New York investment firm executives Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry, bringing the forlorn franchise one step closer to starting a new era.

Daily News Wire Reports
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected