Pacers rout Wizards, clinch first playoff spot since ’06

Posted: 07/04/2011 in NBA
Pacers playoff-bound after win, Bobcats loss
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Danny Granger scored 25 points, Paul George had 23 and the Indiana Pacers locked up the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after a 136-112 victory over the Washington Wizards. Indiana’s fourth win in five games, coupled with Charlotte’s overtime loss to Orlando, moved the Pacers into the postseason for the first time since 2005-06.

“A great team win,” said Indiana head coach Frank Vogel. “I’m just really, really happy for a lot of guys in that locker room. I’m so happy for our fans.”

Seven players scored in double figures and the Pacers led by as many as 29 points while starting their final homestand of the season, a three-gamer that also includes visits from the playoff-bound Hawks and Knicks.

Many Pacers fans stayed behind to watch the end of the Bobcats-Magic game on the big screen inside Conseco Fieldhouse. Those who remained cheered Orlando’s 111-102 victory.

“When I came here as an assistant [on Jim O’Brien’s staffs in Boston and Philadelphia] I could see the passion in them,” Vogel said of the Pacers fans. “It’s going to be a fun ride. I’m happy for them.”

Indiana was knocked out of the 2006 playoffs by New Jersey, losing the first round series in six games.

George, the rookie forward, will be among the Pacers making their first trip to the postseason.

“This is amazing for me,” he said. “I knew we could do it if we stuck together.”

Jordan Crawford scored 29 points to lead the Wizards, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Andray Blatche added 23 points and 10 rebounds and John Wall scored 19.

The Wizards were trying to win four straight games for the first time since December 9-15, 2007, but never even held a lead.

“Energy caught up to us,” said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. “I was worried before the game. Guys didn’t seem to have that pep in their step.”

Indiana shot nearly 60 percent in the game, including better than 56 percent in the first quarter to take a 43-29 lead. The Pacers shot almost 64 percent in the second quarter, going ahead by as many as 20 and taking a 75-56 lead into halftime.

They led by as many as 29 points in the third quarter and were never threatened, of course, after toting a 108-87 advantage into the fourth.

– Steve

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