Porter leads Wizards in wire-to-wire victory
(TSX / STATS) -- INDIANAPOLIS -- With plenty of potent offensive options, the Washington Wizards may be evolving into one of the NBA's most dangerous teams, a characteristic they again exhibited Thursday night.
Otto Porter Jr. had 25 points and eight rebounds, and Washington led from start to finish in a dominating 111-98 victory against the struggling Indiana Pacers in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Washington (34-21) also got 21 points and seven rebounds from Markieff Morris, John Wall had 20 points and 12 assists and Bradley Beal added 19 points on a night when the Wizards shot 51.8 percent, including 15 of 29 from 3-point range.
"We are looking at the big picture," Morris said. "We still have a lot of season to go. We have to make sure guys are working out over the All-Star break. We just have to stay ready."
Myles Turner and Paul George each had 17 points to lead the Pacers (29-28), who lost six in a row. George made only 6 of 19 shots, including 1 of 7 from 3-point range.
Indiana allowed at least 110 points in each contest of this six-game losing streak, the franchise's longest since a six-game slide from March 14-23, 2015.
The Wizards, whose starters scored 97 points while making 38 of 71 field goal attempts, won four straight, 11 of 12 and 18 of 21 dating to Jan. 6. Washington, which won the season series 3-1, owns the third-best record in the East.
"We have a lot of threats, and it's hard to key on any one guy," Beal said. "We are enjoying this. Winning like this is fun. We are playing with a lot of energy, and we don't care who is scoring or anything like that. We enjoy playing for each other."
Rodney Stuckey's 3-pointer with 6:47 left sliced the Washington lead to 97-90 after the Wizards led by 14 earlier in the fourth quarter. But a Wall jumper and a Porter 3-pointer pushed Washington's advantage to 102-90.
"We have been looking real good for the last few months," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "I think we are in a good spot, but I think the thing I love about this group is that they are not satisfied. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us.
"A tough part of our schedule is coming up. We are going to go into it with the right focus and challenge. We're not going to win all of them, but we have to stick together when we don't. Our guys have done that."
Wall's layup gave the Wizards an 82-69 lead with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter. Washington led 90-77 after three periods, shooting 52.3 percent through 36 minutes, including 12 of 23 from 3-point range.
"A lot of teams are shooting the ball well against us right now," George said. "It also was very problematic for us to get into an early hole tonight, especially against a team like the Wizards, who are hot right now. There's a lot of defensive uncertainty on this team right now. I think a break will be good for this team."
Washington increased its lead to 62-52 at halftime, outscoring Indiana 28-25 in the second quarter. Porter finished the half with 18 points, Morris had 12 and Beal added 11. The Wizards shot 51.1 percent through 24 minutes.
Indiana coach Nate McMillan said this team has to find its way quickly.
"We keep showing them things they can do to correct things," McMillan said. "We need to make corrections quickly. This is a proud franchise, and what is happening is not acceptable. I know it is hard to change people, but we have to make adjustments. During the first half of the season, when our defense is not there, neither is our offense."
Turner had nine first-half points for Indiana, and Kevin Seraphin added eight. The Pacers also made 23 of 45 field goal attempts in the opening two quarters.
Porter made 5 of 6 first-quarter attempts from 3-point range, helping the Wizards lead 34-27 through 12 minutes. Washington shot 59.1 percent during the first period, including 7 of 10 from beyond the arc. Porter finished the quarter with 15 points.
Seraphin had six first-quarter points to lead Indiana, which shot 57.1 percent in the opening 12 minutes, staying close in part by out rebounding the Wizards 11-6.
NOTES: The Pacers were without starting F Thaddeus Young (sprained left wrist) and backup F Lavoy Allen (sore right knee). Kevin Seraphin started in place of Young/Allen. ... Glenn Robinson III started for Indiana at G in place of C.J. Miles. ... The Pacers were playing the second of a back-to-back, having lost Wednesday night at Cleveland 113-104. ... The Wizards came in leading the NBA in opponents' turnovers per game (15.6) and third in field goal percentage (47.7). ... Indiana ranked second in free throw percentage (81.1) and sixth in steals per game (8.4). ... The Wizards and Pacers split two earlier meetings, Indiana winning 107-105 on Dec. 19 in Indianapolis and Washington prevailing 111-105 on Dec. 28 in the Verizon Center before the Wizards won 112-107 on Friday in Washington.
Updated February 16, 2017