|Pacers, Wizards jockey for playoff position|
WASHINGTON -- Heading into a key Eastern Conference game against the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, the Indiana Pacers got some good news on Friday.
Myles Turner, who limped off the court twice with a left ankle injury during Thursday's loss to the Toronto Raptors, was at practice Friday and walking around without a limp.
"I'm just glad it's not as serious as it looked," Turner told the Indianapolis Star. "If this is the playoffs, I'm playing (Saturday) for sure. But given the circumstances, given where we are in the season, you have to do what's best for my body and what's best for the team."
What originally was thought to be a high-ankle sprain, was a low-ankle injury and the Pacers (40-29) listed him as questionable for Saturday's game against the Wizards (39-30).
Indiana enters as the third seed in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers and one game up on fifth-place Washington. Sixth-seeded Philadelphia is only two games behind Indiana.
The Pacers and Wizards have split the first two games of the season series, so Saturday's winner will have the edge in a tie-breaker.
Domantas Sabonis (ankle) is out for Saturdays game, and if Turner can't go, that could mean extended minutes for veteran big man Al Jefferson, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds in Thursday's loss to the Toronto Raptors.
"I hope Myles will be ready to go (Saturday), but if not, I'll be ready to step up and play that role," Jefferson told the Star. "When my number gets called, I'll go out there and do what I do."
The Pacers have won six of eight, including a 98-95 home win over the Wizards on March 4. Victor Oladipo scored 33 points and Indiana held on despite being outscored 30-18 in the fourth quarter.
Washington is coming off a 125-124 double-overtime win in Boston on Wednesday. Bradley Beal scored 34 points, Markieff Morris added 20 and Otto Porter, Jr. had 18 points and 11 rebounds as the Wizards rallied from a 20-point deficit against a Celtics team missing six players.
The win was just Washington's third in its past eight games.
"We need guys to play their minutes harder, that's it. You know what, it's time," coach Scott Brooks told The Washington Post. "It's time for guys to come off the bench and play better. It's time for our starters to have better starts, and it's also time for our team to play well together and not just have a first and second unit. It's a team, but they all have to do their part and it's all connected with one another."
Point guard John Wall, who has missed six weeks since left knee surgery, is not expected back Saturday, but has begun participating in offensive drills during practice. His next step before returning will be five-on-five scrimmages.
"Who knows? It might be a week. Might be sooner than that," Brooks told the Post. "The next step will definitely be that -- that he will have some contact."
On Friday, the Wizards signed point guard Ramon Sessions for the remainder of the season.
Meanwhile, Saturday's game could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs.
"We got to realize the playoffs are right around the corner. It'll be here in a snap of a finger," Beal told the Post. "Every team that we play is a playoff team. ... We got to use that as a trump card, that being beneficial to us moving forward and we can get better and be ready to go come the playoff time."