The Sixers could not stop Marquis Daniels.
2007 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Once again, the Indiana Pacers leaned on a strong third quarter effort to build a double-digit lead and hung onto that cushion the rest of the way to put away the Philadelphia 76ers, 102-85. That makes three wins in a row for the Pacers, pushing their record to 14-12 on the season.
No excuses, right? Well, the Pacers had a fresh batch of excuses ready to go when Jamaal Tinsley was scratched before the game to nurse a thigh injury. Andre Owens started for Tins and on the second possession of the game cut his hand and needed stitches. Owens returned after getting stitched up and played a real solid 18 minutes at point guard, finishing the game with zero turnovers. In the first half, reserve big, David Harrison went to the locker room when his back spasms began to, well, spasm and he did not return to action.
The Pacers kept all of their excuses under wraps and instead used a tried and true method to deal with a short-handed roster -- other players stepped up off the bench to make big contributions.
Marquis Daniels maintained his role off the bench but ended up filling both his role and most of Jamaal Tinsley's normal role at the same time. Quisy was magnificent defensively and made the offense go in the second half. Daniels finished the game with 26 points including three 3-balls. In his post-game comments, Jim O'Brien mentioned how Quisy's 26 points were nice but he really enjoyed the 11 deflections Daniels had on the defensive end.
Speaking of defense, on the TV post-game show, assistant coach, Dan Burke lamented the lack of first quarter defense and mention that the Pacers had zero deflections in the first quarter. Neither team had a turnover in the first quarter either. But for the rest of the game, the Pacers had 43 deflections, which is huge. Burke also took a jab at the "Quisy" sensation, Pacers' PA man, Reb Porter has started. Burke said, "I love Reb, but 'Quisy for threesy' is a bit cheesy, that's gotta go." Love it when the post-game banter is light and jovial after a win.
O'B doesn't do jovial in his pressers, but he did express his happiness with the defense after the first quarter. He mentioned the 43 deflections with 11 by Daniels and seven by Kareem Rush. Rush proved why he's in the playing rotation ahead of Shawne Williams by logging 30 minutes and playing some great defense. Known for his shooting prowess, Rush struggled making shots, but more than made up for it by chasing the Sixers' Willie Green and Kyle Korver around on defense.
O'B was happy with the offensive effort as the team finished with 27 assists to 8 turnovers. But as it often does, O'B navigated back to defense when asked about its importance for the Pacers. To drive home his point, O'B said, "No matter how you grind statistics, over the past few year the teams that get to the conference finals are usually in the top ten FG% defense. Not a coaches' cliché, it is exactly right, you either play defense or you go home and probably don't make the playoffs."
Here are a few other quick thoughts:
- The Pacers defense was stifling in the third quarter which allowed the Pacers to weather an offensive drought of their own. Several missed bunnies and open jumpers left the Pacers with only 10 third quarter points after seven minutes. The defense held and the offense finished the final five minutes of the quarter with 21 points to blow open the lead.
- With the bench stepping up, let's not forget the constants in the lineup who played their part well. Mike Dunleavy and Jermaine O'Neal both finished with 19 points. J.O. anchored the defense in the low post with 5 blocked shots.
- Kyle Korver was held without a made field goal which played a big part in keeping the Sixers from making a run after the Pacers built up a lead.
- Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy, and Troy Murphy each had five assists which highlights the strong team offensive effort.