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Here we go again: Pacers drop opener

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Another playoff series, another Game 1 at home, another blown opportunity by the Indiana Pacers.

Oh, and another no-show by Roy Hibbert.

For the second time in the postseason, the top-seeded Pacers opened a series with a crushing loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and, in the process, squandered home-court advantage.

Taking a beating on the boards and finding no offensive traction, the Pacers were defeated 102-96 by the Washington Wizards in Monday night’s opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Bradley Beal scored a game-high 25 points, and Trevor Ariza poured in 22 for the fifth-seeded Wizards, who take a 1-0 lead into Wednesday night’s Game 2 at the fieldhouse.

Capitalizing on the Pacers’ offensive struggles, Washington led most of the way, going 10 of 16 from 3-point range and dominating the boards 53-36.

The Wizards grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and scored 19 second-chance points. Their aggressiveness on the offensive glass trumped a 22 of 31 effort from the free-throw line.

By comparison, the Pacers had six offensive boards and only five second-chance points.

Indiana’s inside problems were magnified by the latest in a series of horrid performances by Hibbert. Apart from a spirited Game 7 effort in the first-round series against Atlanta, the 7-foot-2 All-Star center has been a virtual non-factor in the playoffs.

The trend continued Monday.

In a display eerily reminiscent of the Hawks series, Hibbert had no points and no rebounds in 17 minutes. He was of 0 of 2 from the field with two turnovers, one assist and two blocked shots.

Hibbert’s weak contributions were in stark contrast to Washington counterpart Marcin Gortat, who finished with 12 points, three blocks and a game-high 15 rebounds.

Washington also got a lift from backup center Drew Gooden, who had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Hibbert, however, wasn’t the only Pacers All-Star to have an off night.

Paul George, who averaged 23.9 points and shot 45 percent from the field against Atlanta, had 18 points on a 4-of-17 night from the floor. He was 9 of 9 from the foul line and handed out a team-high five assists.

George Hill also had 18 points for the Pacers, and David West added 15. West also had a team-high 12 rebounds. Lance Stephenson and Luis Scola had 12 points each to round out Indiana’s double-figure scorers.

For the game, the Pacers shot 40.7 percent from the field. The Wizards were only a tick better at 41.7 percent but secured the win on the boards and on the strength of their 3-point shooting.

Ariza was 6 of 6 behind the arc, and Beal was 3 of 5.

All-Star point guard John Wall had 13 points for Washington and a game-high nine assists. Power forward Nene added 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in the fieldhouse. Games 3 and 4 are Friday and Sunday, respectively, in Washington.

The Pacers will have to win at least once on the road win the series, a predicament they twice created for themselves in the first round.

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