“I’m glad we got this win but we’ve got to look past this,” George said. “We didn’t do a good enough job executing.
“Luckily we made enough shots to win, but we didn’t do a good job at all of executing. We let them pressure us and get us out of stuff; we play tough teams and that’s not going to fly.”
“It’s all about the first quarter. I don’t know honestly how to fix it,” Washington’s Emeka Okafor said. “The past two games, teams have jumped on us.”
Still, Washington didn’t go away easily.
After falling behind 24-7, the Wizards took advantage of Indiana’s turnovers and cold shooting to pull within 38-35 with 5:16 to play in the first half. The Pacers had six turnovers and shot just 7 of 22 from the field in the second quarter but still led 47-39 at the break.
“Until we come together as a group, we’re going to have our ups and downs through every game,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “We talked this morning about how we wanted to end this bad run and end it now.”
A 10-4 run to start the third quarter brought the Wizards within 51-49, prompting a timeout by Pacers coach Frank Vogel. The Pacers responded with a 12-4 run over the next 6:27 to regain a double-digit lead.
“The NBA is a game of runs,” Pacers guard D.J. Augustin said. “Teams are going to make runs on you, no matter how much you’re up on them.”
Augustin, making his second straight start because of the injury to George Hill (strained right groin), scored a season-high 18 points. Ten of those came in the fourth quarter, with eight coming at the free-throw line.
“The way he put it to me, his pain was improving but his ability to explode was not,” Vogel said. “He didn’t feel he could push off and move the way he wanted to when he was working out in pregame, so we gave him another game. If we had an injury to one of our point guards, he could have played, but he would have been extremely limited.”
Despite George’s self-criticism, his coach had plenty of praise for the second-year pro.
“Paul George is becoming a beast of a player on both ends of the court,” Vogel said. “He’s probably the best wing defender in the NBA. We talk all the time about how good his hands are, but his feet are even better. His ability to contain the basketball and really shut down perimeter scorers is unique and special, and it’s coming on the offensive end just the same.
“It was just a dominant performance by him on both ends of the court and a good win for our ballclub.”
“I think we have other guys that are creating offense for themselves and for teammates, so when Danny comes back, it’s going to be that type of deal where he can allow his teammates to set him up the first week or two,” Vogel said. “When you get five guys that can create offense and score the ball like we’ll have when Danny comes back, with the way we’ll be able to defend, we have a chance to be special.”
Roy Hibbert added 13 points for the Pacers, who won their sixth straight home game. Ian Mahinmi added nine points and 11 rebounds.
Jordan Crawford scored 20 points to lead Washington, which fell to 1-14 on the road this season. Kevin Seraphin scored 16, Nene added 15 points and Bradley Beal scored 14 for the Wizards, who never led in losing for the third straight game.
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