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Pacers down Wizards, advance to conference finals

Forward David West scored 29 points and forward Lance Stephenson had 17 as the Indiana Pacers closed out their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Washington Wizards with a 93-80 victory on Thursday night.

Indiana reached the conference finals for the second straight season and will face the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

 

Coming off a stunning 102-79 loss in Game 5 at home on Tuesday night, the Pacers pulled away with a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter after the Wizards briefly took the lead.

 

Center Marcin Gortat scored 19 points and guard Bradley Beal added 16 for the Wizards. Washington reached the second round for the first time since 2005 and won games this deep into the postseason for the first time since 1982.

 

Though Indiana led most of the game and by 16 points in the third quarter, Washington rallied with an early fourth-quarter spurt for a 74-73 lead with 8:31 remaining.

 

The veteran Pacers pushed right back. West had eight points during the Pacers' decisive run and Indiana held Washington to one field goal during the seven-minute stretch.

 

Guard John Wall played the entire second half for the Wizards, finishing with 12 points, nine assists and five turnovers. Power forward Nene had 15 points.

 

Indiana won all three games in Washington during the series and is 5-1 on the road in the postseason. Forward Paul George added 12 points and center Roy Hibbert and guard George Hill each had 11.

 

Home court was not an advantage for the Wizards during the postseason. They lost Games 3 and 4 of the series and entered Thursday with a 1-3 record at home in the playoffs.

 

The Pacers opened their largest lead at 56-40 after scoring the first four points of the third quarter. The Wizards slowly pulled closer, trailing 71-63 after the third, and then exploded with a 11-2 run opening the fourth. Beal's pull-up 3-pointer on a fast break gave Washington its first lead since the first quarter.

 

West, who made 13 of 26 shots from the field and had six rebounds and four assists, hit consecutive step-back jumpers to put Indiana ahead for good.

 

Indiana lost to the Miami Heat 4-3 in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals. Now comes the rematch. The Heat closed out the Brooklyn Nets, winning the series 4-1.

 

Washington outrebounded Indiana 62-23 in Game 5 and had more boards in Game 6, winning the battle on the glass for the fifth time in the series. However, the final count was a modest 40-38, not enough of an advantage to help the Wizards offset 39.2 shooting from the field.

 

Despite being the team preferring a slow tempo, the Pacers matched the Wizards with 10 fast-break points.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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