The Norman Transcript

Sports

May 6, 2014

Wizards upend Pacers in Game 1

INDIANAPOLIS — Washington keeps finding ways to break through old, stubborn barriers.

Even in the unlikeliest place of all — Indiana.

Bradley Beal scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Trevor Ariza added 22 and the Wizards held off the Pacers with a stout defense over the final 7 1/2 minutes Monday night to get a 102-96 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

It was Washington’s first second-round win in 32 years.

“We know it’s a tough building to play in. We haven’t won here in a while,” Ariza said after the Wizards snapped a 12-game losing streak in Indy. “Why wouldn’t this be the best time to come here and get a win — in the playoffs?”

The Wizards know there is a lot more work to do in this best-of-seven series.

Game 2 is Wednesday in Indianapolis.

So far, though, things have gone well for the upstart Wizards.

After clinching their first playoff berth since 2008, the Wizards have advanced to the second round for the first time since 2005, won at Indiana for the first time since April 18, 2007, and have their first second-round win since April 28, 1982. Washington has opened these playoffs with four straight road wins and put the pressure right back on the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

It doesn’t get better than that for a young team that beat Chicago 4-1 in the opening round.

“The way I think about it, I’m 20 years old, I’m playing in the playoffs, something I’ve always dreamed of. Why not embrace it?” Beal said. “Why not accept the challenge and have fun with it? That’s all I’m doing — having fun.”

For the Pacers, it was another kick in the pants.

After salvaging their season with two straight wins to beat Atlanta in seven games, Indiana lost Game 1 for the second straight series and for many of the same reasons.

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