Pacers Vs. Wizards: All-Star Break Is Over, But Wizards Still On Vacation, Lose 113-96

The Wizards struggled against the Pacers in their first test after the All-Star break.

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Pacers Vs. Wizards: Washington Struggles In Return From All-Star Break, Falls 113-96

The Wizards might as well have been on vacation. For a team with its gaze already trained on gaining momentum for next season, this was not the way to return from the All-Star break. The Wizards did not compete past the first quarter in a 113-96 loss to the Pacers on Tuesday night.

Andray Blatche led Washington with 21 points and 5 rebounds, but it was a Jekyll and Hyde performance, as Bullets Forever editor Sean Fagan so aptly put it. For example, Blatche scored 12 points in the first quarter, then two in the second as the Wizards went from leading by five to trailing by nine.

Nick Young struggled mightily in his return. The Wizards leading scorer did not make a field goal in the first half and finished with 15 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

Indiana meanwhile is playing for playoff positioning at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and it showed in effort categories. The Pacers attacked the rim relentlessly, earning a large advantage at the free throw line. That helped offset shooting night that was equally rough when compared to the Wizards. The Pacers also forced turnovers from the Wizards, recording 10 steals to the Wizards four.

It's going to be a long rest of the season for the Wizards if the rest of the games resemble this one.

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Pacers Vs. Wizards: Danny Granger, Indiana Leads 58-49 At Half

Apparently, Nick Young lost his jump shot during the All-Star break. The Wizards leading scorer has three points and has missed all nine of his field goals. Washington trails the Pacers by a score of 58-49.

Andray Blatche carried the Wizards offensively in the first quarter with 12 points, and Washington turned a one-time nine-point deficit into a five point lead at the end of one. But didn't score in the second frame until there was less than a minute left, and no one picked up the slack offensively.

The game has not been particularly pretty on either end, with each team shooting worse than 50 percent from the field (WAS: 39.2 percent IND: 42.2 percent). Washington has missed all five of its three-point attempts.

The Wizards are shorthanded at the point guard position with Kirk Hinrich sitting out tonight. After John Wall picked up a pair of early fouls, Washington has been using forward Josh Howard to run the offense. He has three assists to two turnovers, adding 12 points.

The Pacers plan was to attack the basket, and they've done so -- getting to the line for 18 free throws. Indiana's +5 advantage at the line combined with a pair of three pointers gave it the advantage on the scoreboard in a game where neither team has lit it up offensively so far.

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Pacers Vs. Wizards: John Wall, Washington Start Second Half Against Indiana

The All-Star break is the the rear view and Pacers vs. Wizards is on the menu tonight at the Verizon Center (in addition to beef stew, green beens and mashed potatoes in the media work room). Washington welcomes back local All-Star weekend heroes John Wall -- the new Rookie Challenge assists record holder -- and JaVale McGee, he of dunk contest runner-up fame.

But while the break provided the Wizards with a chance to show off the franchise a little bit on a national stage, the post-break schedule means it's back to playing actual basketball games, an area the Wizards face much room for improvement. Sure, the trade deadline could provide a few more distractions (see: this latest NBA trade rumor involving Josh Howard), but for the most part there will be a focus on basketball -- mainly, assessing the Wizards for next season.

The Pacers are in the thick of whatever you whatever is going on at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. At 24-30, Indiana has a two-game lead on Charlotte for the eighth and final playoff seed, and a 3.5 lead on the Bucks. They also sit just two games behind the Sixers for the seventh spot -- so those are the teams jostling for the right to be run over by one of Miami, Boston or Chicago in the first round.

For more reading on the Wizards, roll over to Bullets Forever. And the Pacers are covered over at SB Nation Indiana and Indy Cornrows

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