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.