Pacers rally from 22 down to beat Wizards, 85-83
By JOSEPH WHITE
WASHINGTON (AP) David West grabbed three offensive rebounds in the final 70 seconds, Darren Collison made a key steal of an inbounds pass, and Paul George's 3-pointer with 1:01 to play gave the Indiana Pacers their first lead of the game, completing a 22-point comeback Thursday night for an 85-83 win over the Washington Wizards.
The Pacers effectively kept the ball away from the Wizards in the game's final minute until Washington got one final possession with 9.5 seconds to play. John Wall, trying to find room for an open shot, essentially dribbled out the clock, making a would-be-tying 12-footer after the horn had sounded.
Roy Hibbert scored 19 points, Danny Granger had 16, and West and George finished with 13 apiece for the Pacers, who recovered from an abysmal first half in which they were outshot, outhustled and outrun by one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Down by 20 at halftime, Indiana roared back with an 11-0 third-quarter run led by Granger, and rode Hibbert through the middle of the fourth quarter to stay close. Granger made a pair of free throws with 1:42 left to cut the deficit to two, then George made the 3-pointer that put the Pacers in front.
Collison then alertly stole Nene's nonchalant inbounds pass, and the Pacers kept getting rebounds from their own missed shots until Collison made 1 of 2 free throws with 9.5 seconds to play.
For a while, it appeared the Wizards would ride the Nene effect to another win. In his second game with the Wizards since the trade deadline swap that brought him over from the Denver Nuggets, the Brazilian was the catalyst for a team's 6 for 6 start with six assists, a burst that put Washington in good shape to possibly sweep games on back-to-back nights for the first time in more than two years.
But Nene's presence diminished after the first quarter. He finished with six points, five rebounds and three turnovers.
The Pacers were outrebounded 24-14 and outrun 18-2 in fast-break points in the first half, and West had his left pinkie bent backward while trying to grab a rebound in the third quarter and did not return until early in the fourth.
By then, however, his teammates had the momentum and went on to get their second straight win.
NOTES: Wizards F Andray Blatche, who has been booed frequently at home all season and needs to get himself back into shape following a recent calf injury, sat out for the second straight game to work on his conditioning. "They the fans - they see it. My mom sees it. This was a bad year for me, one of my worst ever," Blatche told reporters before the game. "I let my mom down, my family down, my teammates, the whole organization down this season." ... It was the first Wizards-Pacers game of this lockout-compressed season, but the teams will meet twice more - on March 29 in Indiana and April 4 in Washington. ... Indiana's trade deadline pickup, Leandro Barbosa, was also playing his second game with his new team. He finished with two points in 15 minutes, two days after scoring 12 points in 18 minutes in Tuesday's 102-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP
Updated March 22, 2012