After giving up Game 4 in front of their fans, the Wizards made it clear they were prepared to remain alive in contention, outrebounding Indiana 62-23 and lead by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.
Polish international Marcin Gortat played a crucial role for Washington after scoring a career-high with 31 points, and led all rebounders with 16 boards as the Wizards trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
John Wall added 27 points for visitors who might even the series in Game 6 on Thursday at Verizon Centre Arena in Washington DC.
David West scored 17 points, and Paul George added 15 – the only two Pacers players to score in double digits -, though Game 5 exposed the Indiana’s worrying inconsistence in the postseason.
Roy Hibbert finished with 4 points and 2 rebounds, and the Pacers look like a totally different team to the one which finished with the best record in the East (56-26) ahead of the reigning champions Miami Heat.
West couldn’t find a reason for such a big loss, acknowledging the Pacers have now a tough mission ahead of them.
“We didn’t show up to play. They are a very good team, full of guys with a lot of pride,” West said.
“They just played at different level. I just don’t know where we were tonight. They made us pay. They were a lot more aggressive on the ball handling,” he told in the postgame press conference.
The winner of the series between these two teams will advance to Eastern Conference final, and will face the winner of the other East semifinal between the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets.
Until that moment comes, West says there is a lot of work to do. “It is a tough situation, we’ve got to be able to handle these moments. We have a tough task ahead of us. We’ve got to come to the fight’” he went on saying.
For John Wall there was a reason for the win and a goal behind his team: “The biggest thing was the way we played in the third quarter,” he said. “We won a big game tonight, but we want the opportunity to come here (Indiana) for Game 7. ”