Pacers, Clippers progress to conference finals
May 17, 2014, 12:06 am TWN
WASHINGTON -- Indiana and Oklahoma City clinched series victories on Thursday to advance to a familiar-looking final four teams in the NBA playoffs.
Indiana is back where it was last season — in the NBA Eastern Conference finals — after winning 93-80 at Washington to claim their series 4-2, while Oklahoma City won 104-98 at the Los Angeles Clippers to also win 4-2 and book their third Western Conference finals berth in four years.
Awaiting those two teams are perennial powers Miami and San Antonio.
David West scored 29 points in a see-sawing performance by the Pacers, who blew a 16-point second-half lead before pulling away late.
Next up, a rematch with Miami in the East decider.
Lance Stephenson added 17 points and eight assists for the Pacers, who earned a Game 1 at home against the two-time defending NBA champions on Sunday. Indiana took Miami to seven games in the conference finals a year ago.
Marcin Gortat scored 19 points, and John Wall had 12 points and nine assists for the Wizards, who ended their best playoff run in decades. Washington won a playoff series for the first time since 2005 and a second-round game for the first time since 1982. But the team was ultimately undone by an inability to win at home, going just 1-4 at the Verizon Center and 5-1 on the road in the playoffs.
The Wizards appeared to have fixed their home-court demons when Bradley Beal stole a rebound then hit a 3-pointer at the other end to put the Wizards up 74-73 with 8 minutes to play.
But that was Washington's only lead of the second half. West answered with a pair of jumpers, including a tough fade-away, and Stephenson added a layup to start a decisive 20-6 run that included three Wizards turnovers in four possessions. Washington went five minutes without a point and scored only two field goals after Beal's go-ahead 3.
The Pacers were 46-13 on March 2 before limping to the end of the regular season, barely holding on to the conference's No. 1 seed. Things didn't look much better when Indy was pushed to seven games in the first round by eighth-seeded Atlanta, or when the Pacers lost Game 1 at home to the Wizards.
Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert #55 blocks a shot by Washington Wizards forward Nene during the first half in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff ...