WASHINGTON – The Wizards are the youngest team still playing in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not defined completely by their youthful backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
They also have what Washington coach Randy Wittman has dubbed the “AARP group” – Andre Miller, Al Harrington and Drew Gooden.
In Game 4 against the Pacers on Sunday, the AARP group nearly led the Wizards to victory and the unit could key a Washington comeback trailing 3-1 in the series.
Miller (38), Harrington (34) and Gooden (32) are the Wizards’ oldest players, and they often played together flanked by Beal and Martell Webster. When that lineup entered Game 4 in the second quarter, the Wizards immediately went on a 12-0 run.
“Thank god,” Wittman said. “They kind of saved the day.”
In the three-point loss, the Wizards outscored the Pacers by 19 points in the 15 minutes Miller, Harrington, Gooden, Beal and Webster played together.
That level of success is no huge surprise. That unit was +32 in 151 minutes during the regular season (offensive rating: 116.0/defensive rating: 104.8/net rating: +11.2).
Harrington’s and Gooden’s ability to space the floor could keep giving Roy Hibbert problems. As well as Hibbert has played lately, he’s still vulnerable when pulled from the paint.
But maybe Wittman stuck with the AARP group too long Sunday. Harrington (11 points, six rebounds and three steals), Gooden (10 points, four rebounds and three blocks) and Miller (seven points and four assists) faded late.
And Paul George excelled, overcoming what was on track to be a special night for the AARP group when it left the court for Wall to lead the team down the stretch.
“Sometimes,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said, acknowledging the Wizards’ success, “you can be undone by a special performance.”