NBA: Inside play powers Wizards to opening win over Pacers
Stingy defense and an overwhelming scoring advantage on the interior powered the visiting Washington Wizards in a wire-to-wire win over the Indiana Pacers, 114-107 on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
Kyle Kuzma helped set the tone early for Washington in the season opener for both teams, scoring 10 straight Washington points in a 2:01 stretch to open up a 10-point, first-quarter lead.
The flurry included a pair of 3-pointers by Kuzma, who shot 3 of 10 for the game from beyond the arc en route to 22 points.
Washington held a 58-34 advantage on points in the paint and outrebounded Indiana 52-42.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 23 points, while Kristaps Porzingis added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Will Barton scored 17 points, and Daniel Gafford had 12. Kuzma grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
Start it off right!!!😤😤😤 wiz win!! https://t.co/wiyP056rpj
— kuz (@kylekuzma) October 20, 2022
The Wizards kept the Pacers at arm’s length for much of the game, holding Indiana to 40.2 percent field-goal shooting.
The Pacers made a late-game push, cutting an 18-point deficit down to three in the final minute behind Tyrese Haliburton’s game highs of 26 points and seven assists. Indiana went on an 8-0 scoring run in the final 1:23, a span that included five straight points from rookie Bennedict Mathurin.
Mathurin finished with 19 points and shot 3-for-7 from 3-point range off the bench in his NBA debut. The Pacers went 15 of 42 (35.7 percent) from behind the arc, while the Wizards shot 11 of 31 (35.5 percent) from deep.
Indiana could not complete the comeback, however. Barton scored the game’s final four points, all scored at the foul line in the final 15 seconds.
Buddy Hield and Jalen Smith each scored 16 points for Indiana. Hield grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
Washington’s reserves outscored Indiana’s 43-36.