Pacers seek second straight win against a Wizards team that is ‘beyond tired’
INDIANAPOLIS — Since Jan. 1, the Indiana Pacers are the only team that hasn’t lost three in a row in 2018. Indiana’s last losing streak of three games or more was a five-game stretch from Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 3, 2018.
“I think all NBA teams, certainly my team, you try to figure it out after two losses,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.
McMillan said the goal is to figure it out and correct it, and the Pacers did that Friday night.
The Pacers (21-12) avoided a third consecutive loss by beating host Brooklyn 114-106. That ended the Nets’ seven-game winning streak. The Pacers will face Washington (13-20) Sunday night. The Wizards are on the second game of a back-to-back after outlasting Phoenix 149-146 in triple overtime on Saturday night.
Bradley Beal delivered his first career triple-double with 40 points, a career-high 15 assists and 11 rebounds for the Wizards. Washington center Thomas Bryant sank all 14 of his shots en route to a career-high 31 points, becoming only fifth player in NBA history to go 14 for 14 or better.
“We’re beyond tired,” Beal told NBA.com. “I’m sure everyone is pretty much exhausted. It was a gut-check win and we needed it. Phoenix has been playing great of late and we’ve been trying to put it together.”
Beal said that while everyone wants to talk about his triple-double, Bryant was the MVP of the game.
“TB played his role, played extremely hard, rolled to the basket, finished at the rim, got rebounds when we needed them,” Beal said. “We need him to continue to do that if we want to win.”
Pacers guard Victor Oladipo wanted to win badly after blaming himself for Indiana’s two previous losses. He missed three free throws in a 92-91 loss to visiting Cleveland Tuesday and was 4-for-15 shooting in a 99-96 loss at Toronto Wednesday. Oladipo scored 14 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
“I thought he played angry,” McMillan said. “I loved his attitude coming out in the second half, being aggressive and making plays. That’s what he does. Those were games he felt he didn’t play well, a few turnovers. (Friday night), he was really efficient out there. He made plays when we needed him to.”
Oladipo said he did take responsibility for the losses.
“That’s what leaders do,” Oladipo told FOX Sports Indiana. “I might have ups and downs. But as a man, a leader and for the God I serve, I take responsibility for everything. I felt like I can take it. I’ve been through way worse in my life. I want to be the leader that they can lead on when things are tough. I try to do my best to help my teammates.”
Wall, who averages 21.1 points and 8.9 assists, didn’t play due to a sore foot in the Pacers’ 109-101 victory over visiting Washington on Dec. 10.
“(The Wizards) have had an up-and-down season, guys have been hurt, but it’s not a team you can take lightly,” Pacers center Myles Turner said. “They have a dynamic backcourt and we can’t count them out. We beat them a couple of weeks ago at our place, so you know they will be coming here looking for revenge.”
Guard Ron Baker, who was waived by the New York Knicks last week, signed with the Wizards Friday.
Baker said he wants to earn his roster spot by sharing the ball and playing close defense.
“I feel like if you do those things in this league, there’s always going to be a spot for you,” Baker told The Washington Times.