Experience is a funny thing. You don’t know you have it until you need it and it often doesn’t matter until it does.
Randy Wittman in his postgame press conference would not sit there and blame his team’s relative youth as the Wizards let a 16-point lead slip and watched Paul George lead the Pacers to a 3-1 series lead with a come-from-behind 95-92 victory at Verizon Center.
Paul George put in a superhuman 39-point effort. He was the All Star and MVP candidate everyone imagined he would be after last year’s stellar Playoff performance. This was Paul George at his best. He made every big play the Pacers needed.
That is clearly the difference between Indiana and Washington right now. The Pacers have the players to put their head down and find a way to grind out a win. The Wizards still have to learn that skill.
Their lead was lost when their young stars succumbed to the pressure. Their lead was built behind the surprising play from Drew Gooden and Al Harrington. Two veterans no one saw contributing int he Postseason at the beginning of the year. Harrington had 11 points and Gooden had 10.
It comes down to your stars though. And Washington’s struggled. John Wall had 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting and Bradley Beal had 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Washington needed a bit more, from Wall especially. Because when push comes to shove in these games, it matters what your best players do.
Indiana’s best player rose to the occasion. And Indiana remains right on track for a Conference Finals berth.