Marcin Gortat of the Wizards had a career night with 31 points and 16 rebounds to lead Washington to a 102-79 rout of the Indiana Pacers to stay in the playoff hunt during the Game 5 of the NBA semifinal playoff in Indianapolis on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box file photo
INDIANAPOLIS 0 Before the Washington Wizards met the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of their playoff matchup, Wizards guard John Wall was, admittedly, shaken. Games 3 and 4 at home were brutal for Wall; he piled up 12 turnovers to 13 assists and shot 31 percent in the series (43 percent in Games 3 and 4), mostly because of his obvious reluctance and an apparent lack of confidence in his game. Coming off three straight losses to the Pacers including two in a row at home, down 3-1 Wall’s coach, Randy Wittman, approached the 23-year old with some words of encouragement.
“I told him something that he probably never wanted me to say,” said Wall. “I was like, 'I'm frustrated. I don't know how to get out of this slump. I don't know what to do.' And he was like, 'I never want to hear you say that ever again, because I know how confident you are in yourself and I know how competitive you are."
Wall went on to say Wittman, his coach for the last couple of years, reassured him that he was behind his young all star. Even if Wall ended up with “20 turnovers” Wittman wanted him to be aggressive.
With that, Wall went into a cocoon and emerged in Game 5 with the best scoring performance of his playoff career. Wall was assertive; despite losing the ball a couple of times early on (5 TOs in the game), he looked for his shot, scoring 27 points on 11-20 shooting.
It's a process," Wittman said after the Wizards 95-92 Game 4 loss. "He's just got to stay aggressive. He can't worry about anything else because that's who he is. That's who he's been since he's been in this league. He's been a guy who's extremely confident, extremely aggressive. And that's who he's got to be and who he's got to stay
With their floor general focused, the Wizards dominated the Pacers. Marcin Gortat led all scores with a career playoff-high 31 points on 86.7 percent shooting and 16 rebounds (seven offensive) in the Wizards 102-79 win.
"I was a decoy in Game 3 and Game 4," Gortat said. "(Game 5) was the time for me to perform. At some point in the second half, it was just fun to be in the game."
John Wall broke out of his shooting slump with 27 points. Washington routed Indiana 102-79 to stay in the playoff hunt during the Game 5 of the NBA semifinal playoff in Indianapolis on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box file photo
Washington led by as many as 30 points and outrebounded Indiana in an NBA record 62-23 disparity.
“We don't have anything to lose now," Gortat said. "We play desperate. At the end of the day, we might lose. We have to play every minute of every game like it's the last one of the season.”
Washington led 45-38 at halftime and then dominated the no. 1 seed Pacers in the third quarter. Notoriously the Wizards’ worst quarter during the series, Washington outscored Indiana 31-14 in Game 5. Indiana had been +42 in third quarters in the series but behind Wall’s 17 points in the quarter, Washington grabbed control of the game.
David West led Indiana with 17 points and six rebounds and Paul George, the only other Pacer to score in double figures added 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
The Wizards played Game 5 the way they needed to all series. They executed in the half-court, Wall was confident, the Wizards shot 50 percent on 82 shot attempts and went 15-of-19 from the free throw line, and by the time Gortat sat in the fourth quarter, he had outrebounded Indiana himself, 16-15. Drew Gooden came off the bench to grab nine boards and Trevor Ariza recorded his second double-double of the series with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wizards rallied from down 32-30 in the second quarter to grab a seven-point lead at half. Washington rode the momentum through the second half, going up by 30 at 93-63 on a Bradley Beal (18 points, eight rebounds) assist to Nene.
The Wizards/Pacers series is headed back to D.C. at 3-2. Washington is now 5-1 on the road and 1-3 at home in this year's playoffs. Game 6 will be at the Verizon Center. Game time is 8 p.m.