Washington keeps finding ways to break through old, stubborn barriers.
Even in the unlikeliest place of all - Indiana.
Bradley Beal scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Trevor Ariza added 22 and the Wizards held off the Pacers with a stout defense over the final 71/2 minutes Monday night for a 102-96 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It was Washington's first second-round win in 32 years.
"We know it's a tough building to play in. We haven't won here in a while," Ariza said after the Wizards snapped a 12-game losing streak in Indianapolis. "Why wouldn't this be the best time to come here and get a win - in the playoffs?"
The Wizards know there is a lot more work to do in this best-of-seven series.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Indianapolis.
So far, though, things have gone well for the upstart Wizards.
After clinching their first playoff berth since 2008, the Wizards have advanced to the second round for the first time since 2005, won at Indiana for the first time since April 18, 2007, and have their first second-round win since April 28, 1982. Washington has opened these playoffs with four straight road wins and put the pressure right back on the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
It doesn't get better than that for a young team that beat Chicago four games to one in the opening round.
"The way I think about it, I'm 20 years old, I'm playing in the playoffs, something I've always dreamed of. Why not embrace it?" Beal said. "Why not accept the challenge and have fun with it? That's all I'm doing - having fun."
LeBron lauds Durant
LeBron James of the Miami Heat says Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant would be a deserving winner of the NBA MVP award.
It's expected that Durant will be announced as this season's MVP later this week. James has lauded Durant's play this season several times in recent weeks, doing so again on Monday.
James says: "Much respect to him and he deserves it. He had a big-time MVP season."
James is a four-time winner of the league's MVP award, taking the honor in each of the previous two seasons.
Lowry ponders future
Still stinging from the heartbreaking end of Toronto's playoff run, Kyle Lowry wasn't quite ready to decide his future. Even if that's all anyone else wanted to talk about.
Lowry, a Villanova graduate, had a chance to get the Raptors into the second round when he got the ball with just over six seconds remaining in Sunday's Game 7 against the Nets. Instead, his last-second shot was blocked by Brooklyn's Paul Pierce, handing Toronto a 104-103 loss and leaving Lowry to contemplate free agency.
"It felt like the longest 6.2 seconds of my life but the fastest 6.2 seconds ever," Lowry said of the pivotal play as the Raptors cleaned out their lockers Monday.
Lowry set career highs with averages of 17.9 points and 7.4 rebounds this season. He was a key cog on a Toronto team that won a franchise-record 48 games, captured the Atlantic Division title and ended a six-year playoff drought.
Pressed on whether he's leaning toward a return to the Raptors or testing the open market, the veteran point guard said it was still too soon to say.
- Associated Press