There are blown opportunities, and then there is what the Indiana Pacers did Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
They not only failed to close out their second-round playoff series against the Washington Wizards, they failed in spectacular fashion.
In one of their worst postseason performances in franchise history, the Pacers were thrashed 102-79 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, largely the result of a 62 to 23 pounding on the boards.
Washington tallied 38 second-chance points on the strength of 18 offensive rebounds and outplayed the Pacers in virtually all areas — a stunning result for a No. 1 seed that was positioned for something entirely different.
Seeming to have regained confidence and swagger that was lacking the past two months, the Pacers entered the night with a 3-1 lead, a three-game winning streak and a golden chance to end the best-of-seven series at home, in front of a sellout crowd.
Instead, they exited battered and dazed and looking for answers for what just hit them.
Forward David West summed it up best.
“I don’t know. We didn’t show up to play,” said West, Indiana’s lone meaningful contributor with team-high totals of 17 points, six rebounds and three assists.
“I don’t know if we thought (the Wizards) were going to come in here and roll over,” West added. “They just played at a different level all night, and it showed up on the glass.”
“I don’t know where we were tonight.”
Apart from the first quarter, the Pacers were never in the game.
Fueled by center Marcin Gortat and guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards — who led 25-19 at the end of the first quarter — broke the game open in the second, closing the half with a 17-5 run for a 45-38 lead.
It was all Washington after that.
Behind Wall and Gortat, the Wizards outscored Indiana 31-14 in the third period and took a 76-52 advantage into the final period. Wall had 17 of his 27 points in the third quarter, and Gortat had 10 of his game-high 31 in the period.
For the night, Gortat was 13 of 15 from the field and had a game-high 16 rebounds. Wall was 11 of 20 from the floor, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range, and had five assists.
Beal finished with 18 points for Washington, and Trevor Ariza had 10.
For Indiana, Paul George — who scored a career-playoff-high 39 in Indiana’s Game 4 win on Sunday — had 15 points on a miserable 5-of-15 shooting night.
West and George were the only Indiana players in double figures. The Pacers shot 39 percent from the field. Washington shot 50 percent.
Game 6 is Thursday night in Washington.
“Give the Wizards credit. They outplayed us in most areas,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t match their physicality. This is a good basketball team we’re playing.
“We’ve got to go back and respond for Game 6.”
Indiana’s loss was its second-largest home playoff defeat in franchise history. The worst was a 110-79 loss against Boston in 2005.
Fortunately for the Pacers, they have won two straight at Washington but have now lost twice at home during this series. They would host Game 7 on Sunday if necessary.
“If we want to win this series, we’re going to have to take it,” West said. “We’ve got to be able to handle these moments. We had no zip. We’ve got to come to the fight.
“We didn’t have enough fight as a group to compete with this team tonight. We blew a great opportunity.”