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 defense, and then offense will come. Defense 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 defense, we were still locking down.”
The Wizards never trailed after a 10-0 run in the first quarter that put them ahead 24-18. Washington pushed its lead to 22 points in the third quarter. Indiana briefly cut it to 10 but never got closer.
Chasson Randle matched his career high with 13 points for Washington, and Jordan McRae scored 12 in a season-high 26 minutes.
SECOND TIME’S THE CHARM
The Wizards, who went 8-6 in January, continued an odd trend in back-to-back games. They are 7-2 on the back end but 1-8 in the first game.
“I guess that’s kind of a good thing, but it’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s good that we’re able to win on the second night. We’ve got to win on the first night,” Beal said. “It’s always a good thing to be able to see positive mindsets, have amnesia about the last game, come out tonight and take care of business, but we’ve got to win on the road. … I looked at our road record the other day (6-20). It’s atrocious.”
PORTER HURT AGAIN
The Wizards, already missing John Wall, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris, had another injury when Otto Porter Jr. landed awkwardly after a rebound early in the third quarter. He was diagnosed with a sprained left big toe and did not return.
“Hopefully it’s only a day,” coach Scott Brooks said. “We’ve got a couple days off before our next game so hopefully he responds well the next couple days of treatment.”
Porter missed 10 games earlier this season with a knee injury.
Pacers: McMillan gave two-way player Edmond Sumner his second career start. Sumner committed three quick fouls and finished with seven points in 22 minutes. “The challenge is just getting familiar with our guys,” Sumner said. … The Pacers fell to 7-7 overall without Oladipo this season.
Wizards: Brooks said the Cleveland loss was the first time “in probably over a month” that he’d had to talk to his team about its lack of effort. Coincidentally or not, it’s been just over a month since Washington’s highest-paid player, Wall, was last in the lineup. Wall, who was never fully healthy this season, last played on Dec. 26 and underwent season-ending surgery on his left heel on Jan. 8. … Wall signed autographs at halftime, his left knee resting on a scooter and his foot in a plastic boot. … Washington improved to 11-8 without Wall after going 11-21 with him. … Morris, out since Dec. 28 with a neck injury, signed autographs and took selfies with fans before the game.
Pacers: At Orlando on Thursday night, the second of a four-game, six-night trip.
Wizards: Host Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.
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