It wasn’t a normal night by any stretch of the imagination, as the normally rock-solid Sixers defense crumbled against the offensive-minded Indiana Pacers in a 111-94 loss. This was an important matchup between the two teams fighting for the #4 and #5 seeds behind Miami, Chicago, and Orlando, so this loss was tougher to bear than most.
Philadelphia (25-18) came out strong offensively, scoring 29 points in the first quarter to take a five-point lead. They were led by Jrue Holiday, who scored 7, and Elton Brand, who had 6.
However, the Pacers outscored the Sixers by 8 in the second quarter, shooting the ball extremely well and keeping Philly off the glass. In fact, Indiana out-rebounded the Sixers by 11 in the game. The game was close throughout the end of the first half, but a Paul George dunk with 10.1 seconds left pushed Indiana’s lead to 3. It was an entertaining half of basketball, with both teams shooting the ball extremely well (over 50%), but it was a surprise for a Sixers defense which had gone three straight games without giving up 100 points.
The third quarter was back-and-forth, with both teams making quick, short runs but never pulling away. However, the Pacers finally made their decisive move in the final minute with 3-pointers from Dahntay Jones and George Hill to push their lead to 8, and they would never look back, outscoring the 76ers by another 9 in the final frame.
A 6-2 run led by Louis Almundson started it off, and then a couple of threes with just under 4 minutes left by Hill put the game away for good following a comeback push by Elton Brand.
Indiana had five players in double figures, highlighted by Danny Granger, George Hill off the bench, and David West. Granger, the Pacers’ leading scorer with just over 18 ppg, scored 20, and West added 18 on 8-12 (66.6%) shooting from the field. Hill provided a spark, scoring 17 in a reserve role. The Pacers as a club shot an incredible 43-76 (56.6%) from the field, which is why they were able to put up so many points on a good defensive team.
Evan Turner led Philly with 21 points, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, while backcourt mate Jrue Holiday chipped in with 17 points and 4 assists. Elton Brand led the front-court with 16 points and 5 rebounds, as well as 2 steals. The Sixers shot abnormally high field goal and 3-point percentages (52.6 and 46.2 respectively), but a killer was the foul difference. Philadelphia committed 21 fouls compared to Indiana’s 8, giving the Pacers twice as many free throw attempts.
Coach Doug Collins even remarked after the game that the officials’ calls had been questionable throughout the game.
Next, the Sixers get their 3rd crack at the Miami Heat on Friday at home.