INDIANAPOLIS (AP)Two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis was ready to do whatever it took to snap a four-game losing streak.
Especially against the team that eliminated the Indiana Pacers from the play-in round in May.
So on Monday night, Sabonis did it all. He produced his 19th double-double of the season with 30 points and 10 rebounds while adding six assists and three steals, helping the Pacers hold off hard-charging Washington 116-110.
”He’s a strong-willed guy and he was not going to be denied tonight,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. ”There was a lot of contact on some of those plays and it led to some frustration at one point, but he really played one massive game inside.”
Sabonis’ play also seemed to inspire his teammates.
Caris LeVert had 19 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 17 points and eight assists for the Pacers, who had lost five straight in the series including the play-in game. And it didn’t take long for Indiana to show everyone it intended to change directions.
While three-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal tried to bail out the Wizards with 34 points, Washington lots its third in a row and fell for the fourth time in five games. Beal appeared to hurt his left shoulder early in the fourth quarter during a tussle for a loose ball, but returned following a timeout and finished the game.
But the Wizards never recovered from an inexplicably slow, sloppy start on the second game of a back-to-back. After Oshae Brissett’s 3-pointer to end the first quarter gave Indiana a 28-18 lead. The Wizards couldn’t cut the deficit to fewer than eight points until their final basket.
”It is tough,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. ”When you get behind in the first quarter and you’re fighting uphill the rest of the game, it’s tough. Twelve turnovers for 21 points, that’s pretty insurmountable.”
Washington cut the deficit to nine early in the second quarter only to watch Indiana retake a double-digit lead. The Pacers maintained that advantage through the rest of the first half and the entire third quarter.
Beal’s put-back to open the fourth got Washington within 88-80, but Sabonis answered with a three-point play and Indiana methodically put this one away.
”We had a much stronger physically presence tonight,” Carlisle said. ”There was a collective will we played with tonight that we had not played with the last couple of games. I think our guys really understood this game was going to come down to how hard we could fight.”
Carlisle won his 191st game with the franchise, breaking a tie with Larry Brown for the second-most wins in the franchise’s NBA history.
Wizards: Daniel Gafford had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Kyle Kuzma finished with 14 points and four rebounds. … Corey Kispert scored 10 points in his first game in Indianapolis since April when he was on the court as Gonzaga’s perfect season ended in the national championship game loss to Baylor. … Washington had 10 turnovers in the first half and wound up with 12.
Pacers: Brissett made all three of his 3s and finished with 12 points. Jeremy Lamb had 10 points. … Chris Duarte had 13 points, five rebounds and four steals. … The Pacers had all 10 of their steals in the first half, finishing one short of this season’s single-game high.
The Holiday brothers reunion didn’t pan out Monday night because the older brother, Justin, did not play because he’s still in the health and safety protocols. Aaron Holiday made his seventh start of the season and scored 11 points in his first trip to Indianapolis since the Pacers traded him this summer. Justin Holiday went into the protocols Nov. 30.
After another slow start, Unseld acknowledged he would consider making a lineup change or rotational changes before concluding their road trip Wednesday.
”Everything’s on the table,” Unseld said. ”We’re not where we want to be, so we’ve got to take a hard look at it and see what we like and what we don’t like and why things all of a sudden aren’t working.”
Wizards: Visit Detroit on Wednesday.
Pacers: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
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