for this game

Wizards eliminate Pacers from playoff hunt

Apr 15, 2008 - 3:41 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- While resting their playoff-bound starters, the Washington Wizards eliminated the Indiana Pacers from the playoff hunt with a 117-110 victory on Monday night.

Reserves Nick Young, Andray Blatche and Roger Mason led the Wizards to a 17-point first-half lead as they coasted to their second consecutive victory.

Mason finished with 31 points, one shy of his career high, Young scored 14 points and Blatche added 11.

"I was able to knock some shots down," said Mason, who made a career-high seven 3-pointers. "I wanted to try and get my rhythm tonight knowing that Gilbert (Arenas) wasn't going to play. I think it makes us more dangerous in the playoffs because of the confidence we've built."

Reserve forward Dominic McGuire added a career-high nine points and 10 rebounds.

"My veteran teammates were telling me before the game to be ready to play tonight because Gilbert and Caron (Butler) were going to sit out," McGuire said. "I just wanted to come out, be aggressive and bring a lot of energy."

Antawn Jamison led Washington's starters with 12 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes.

The closest the Pacers got in the second half was 113-110 on Marquis Daniels' 3-pointer with 17 seconds left. They trailed by 18 points early in the fourth quarter.

"I'm a little disappointed," said Pacers first-year coach Jim O'Brien, whose saw the Pacers miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season for the first time 1987-89. "We're out of the playoffs. We didn't have a good first half. If you don't have a good first half on the road, you go home.

"We didn't bring it, that's the bottom line. We just didn't bring it." When Mike Dunleavy was whistled for traveling with 52 seconds remaining, he shook his head with a look of exasperation that signaled the end of the Pacers' season.

Butler and Arenas sat out to rest their sore knees. DeShawn Stevenson left early in the third quarter with a sore back and did not return.

"It's been nagging him for a few days," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of Stevenson's back. "We didn't go through a lot (at shootaround Monday) and we didn't have practice (Sunday), so it stiffened up on him."

Center Jeff Foster missed the game for the Pacers, who had to win their last two regular-season games against the Wizards and New York Knicks on Wednesday to have a shot at making the playoffs. The Atlanta Hawks also had to lose their final two games for the Pacers to get into postseason play.

"It's disappointing, but we really gave it away the other night at home against Charlotte and tonight was just the icing on the cake, if you will," said Dunleavy, who had 26 points and six assists. "It's very, very disappointing, but you take it like a man.

"It's tough. In the heat of the moment there's a lot you want to say but, at the end of the day, you get what you deserve, so that's where we're at."

Headed to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, the Wizards and Detroit Pistons now are the only Eastern Conference clubs to qualify for postseason play in every season since 2004-05.

With one regular-season game remaining, Washington (43-38) learned Monday that it will not have home-court advantage against Cleveland (45-36), which locked up the fourth seed with a controversial last-second win at Philadelphia.

However, the two clubs still will meet in the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Danny Granger had 35 points and nine rebounds to lead the Pacers, who lost their second straight game.

"We just didn't have it tonight," Granger said. "The past fifteen games we've played well enough to get us back into the playoffs but we didn't win some of the important games. You can think back through the year, we lost to Minnesota, lost to Seattle, lost to Miami when they had a 15-game losing streak - games like that, if we could get back, we would be in the playoffs already.

"It's disappointing. We were so close to making the playoffs and we're probably going to miss it by one game. Considering everything we have gone through this year with the injuries and whatnot, the playoffs would have been great to make, but it just didn't happen."

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