George helps Pacers top lowly Wizards

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George altered his pregame routine Saturday to try to get back on track after a slow start. It didn’t take very long to notice a difference.

George scored a season-high 20 points and the Pacers snapped a three-game losing streak with an 89-85 victory over the winless Washington Wizards.

“Guys seemed a little tired, but really gutted it out,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We made some adjustments to our rotation to put our bench in a better position to succeed.

“We’re in a figure things out kind of mode.”

Roy Hibbert added seven points, 12 rebounds and two blocks for the Pacers (3-4), who enjoyed a 48-40 rebounding edge. Gerald Green had 15 points and Lance Stephenson scored 12 in his first start of the season.

George was 8 for 12 from the field and had seven rebounds and three assists. He said he changed his pregame routine after talking to the coaching staff, hitting the gym early for some additional weightlifting and extra shots.

“Been frustrated all season long,” George said. “Shots not going down. . I had to switch something up.

“That’s something that sticks out, when someone tells you you need to be more efficient.”

Washington carried a 72-70 lead into the fourth quarter, and Jordan Crawford promptly made a 3-pointer to extend the lead to five. But the Pacers then grabbed control with a 10-0 run.

Emeka Okafor and Bradley Beal had 17 points apiece for the Wizards (0-5), and A.J. Price finished with 12 points and 14 assists.

“We’re right there again,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “Just kind of the little things in games like this. . We didn’t close out the second quarter. I think it was 47-40 and we have to come with a lead. We give them the last shot when we should have taken the last shot. We shoot too soon and they come down and hit a 3. There’s three more points that they shouldn’t have.

“We, from a stats standpoint, (didn’t) take care of the ball. Twelve turnovers, six of them were in the fourth quarter. To win close games you can’t have six turnovers in the fourth quarter.”

Washington made one last run late in the game. Beal made a 3-pointer and Okafor had a jumper to trim the Pacers lead to 87-85 with 36.4 seconds left. Trevor Booker had a look at a tying jumper, but missed and George hit two free throws to close it out.

“One of our problems is that we turn the ball over too much,” Beal said. “We’re hesitant in our movement and our passes and a lot of other things.

“We have the parts we need, it’s just putting it all together and having better overall execution.”

Indiana shot just 58 percent (14 for 24) at the free-throw line, but Washington only attempted seven foul shots, making five.

The Wizards used a 9-0 run to grab a 47-40 lead with 3:32 left in the first half. Price made a 3-pointer and a jumper during the surge.

The Pacers rallied to leave it tied at 49 at halftime. George closed out the half with a 3.

NOTES: The Pacers are off Sunday and host the Raptors on Tuesday. … Washington is at Charlotte on Tuesday. … Washington’s 85 points were a season-low for a Pacers opponent. … Price set a career high for assists.