With their backs against the wall and one loss away from elimination, the Washington Wizards responded by dismantling the Indiana Pacers, 102-79, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Wizards survive with a 102-79 blowout win over the Pacers! Marcin Gortat dominated Game 5 with 31pts & 16rebs pic.twitter.com/NgnT0IWzwZ— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 14, 2014
Coming into the night up 3-1 in the series, the Pacers had all the momentum. After being down by 19 points in Game 4, Indiana came back and ripped the heart out of Washington.
Well, apparently the Wizards still have a pulse. And so does John Wall.
Averaging just 11.5 points through the first four games, the third-year point guard responded with a 27-point offensive explosion and five dimes. Wall spoke about his disappointing play early in the series before the game, per Michael Lee of The Washington Post:
John Wall said he no longer needs the medicated contact lens for his right eye. Took it out before Game 4. "My eye is fine." #wizards— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 13, 2014
John Wall: "It’s just frustrating when you know you can play better & you’re not helping as much as you can...I’ve got to play better."— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 13, 2014
Wizards coach Randy Wittman also talked about his team's need to perform on Tuesday night, via the Wizards' official Twitter account:
Along with Wall, Marcin Gortat had a outstanding performance of his own. The big man tallied 31 points and 16 rebounds, proving that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the series.
NBA on ESPN points out the historical significance of his performance:
Marcin Gortat is the first WSH player with 30 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game since Moses Malone in 1987. pic.twitter.com/YtVFVNPo83— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 14, 2014
In the losing effort, Paul George registered another productive game with 15 points, while David West was the only other Pacer in double digits with 17 points. George did get in one highlight dunk early on.
Though you wouldn't know it from the final score, the first half was competitive.
While they weren't necessarily pulling away, the Wizards were in control for much of the opening quarter. Much of that production came from Gortat, who got off to a hot start, as the Wizards account points out:
As for the Pacers, it was hardly the start they needed. After getting off to a miserable beginning in Game 4 and recovering, the Pacers dug themselves another hole on Tuesday night.
Those struggles were especially noticeable on offense, as Scott Agness of Pacers.com notes:
Wizards up 25-19 after 1. Pacers shot just 36% and gave up 8 fast-break points. Marcin Gortat much more aggressive, with 11p & 6r.— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) May 13, 2014
Despite the ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball, the Pacers kept themselves in the game by forcing turnovers, as Lee explains:
IND has been slapping away at the ball every time #wizards make a move. Reaching in is working. Pacers have forced 11 turnovers— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 13, 2014
After a hard-fought first half by both sides, Washington took a 45-38 lead into the locker room. The Wizards closed out the half with a 15-6 run.
That was when it all went awry for Indiana.
It instantly turned into the "John Wall Show" early in the frame, with the young point guard nailing shots from all over the court. Lee points out that it was also a huge night from a mental standpoint for Wall:
This is the John Wall the #wizards have been waiting to show up for this series. He's not moping around right now— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 14, 2014
The third quarter throughout the series has been a time for the Pacers to pull away, but that all changed Tuesday. After outscoring Washington by a total of 42 points combined in the third, the Pacers couldn't stop Wall and the Wiz, per Agness:
Pacers lose their first 3Q of the series, 31-14. Wizards 76-52. John Wall outscored IND by himself, with 17.— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) May 14, 2014
With so many highs and lows throughout the playoffs, the second half was a miserable one for Indiana. The team looked both lifeless and disconcerted throughout the third quarter and couldn't get the job done in the paint.
Agness once again points out a huge stat for the Wizards from Game 5:
Washington's 58 rebounds — and counting — is the most for an Indiana opponent in NBA franchise playoff history. Pacers have 18.— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) May 14, 2014
Washington finished plus-39 on the glass.
The surprising loss left Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram shocked about a team that was tremendous at home during the regular season:
How do you lose just 6 home games all year, and the 2nd round of the playoffs aren't over and you've lost 4 more home games? #Pacers— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) May 14, 2014
Who wins the series?
Following a huge Game 5 performance, the Wizards will now fight for their life once again in Game 6. Though they should have an advantage facing Indiana at home, Washington has struggled at the Verizon Center with a 1-3 record during the playoffs.
As for the Pacers, they have another shot to win the series Thursday night. Coming off a disappointing loss in Game 5, Indiana can't afford to look ahead to the Miami Heat or Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Will Wall shine at home like he did on the road? Can George rally the Pacers to reach the next round?
Those questions will be answered on Thursday.
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