Pacers vs Heat again
WASHINGTON (AP) – For all their mysterious slumps and chemistry curiosities, the Indiana Pacers are back where they were last season – in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
David West scored 29 points tonight, 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 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 Centre 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 three-pointer at the other end to put the Wizards up 74-73 with 8½ 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.