In the NBA all good runs must come to an end, and for the Indiana Pacers, the good times ended in the second quarter of an eventual 94-92 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
After building up a 25-point lead in a seemingly effortless 38-point first quarter, the Pacers eased up and Philly dug deep wiping away three plus games of good feelings for the Pacers. The Sixers bounced back with a 36-point second quarter to cut the lead to eight at the break and kept grinding away before eventually sneaking out of town with a two-point win.
In his post-game remarks, Jim O'Brien mentioned how his team "forgot who we are" in the second quarter. The extra effort, defending off and on the ball, hitting the glass, running back in transition defense...all gone.
Plenty of credit has to go to the Sixers also. Their second unit changed the tone of the game in the second quarter and Maurice Cheeks made it stick by keeping center Samuel Dalembert on the bench and running with a small lineup. JOB countered with his small lineup which kept Troy Murphy on the bench, but in the end, the Sixers small-ball group outplayed the Pacers' version. Willie Green was especially effective for the Sixers, pitching in 14 points off the bench.
To a man, the Pacers are happy they have a game in Chicago Saturday night to give themselves a chance to come back with a strong effort and put this meltdown behind them.
- It took the Sixers all game to overcome the Pacers, finally taking the lead with three minutes left. Despite giving up the big lead, Marquis Daniels released a game-winning 3-ball attempt at the buzzer. But the ball had no chance from the time it left his hand and the way the team played down the stretch, it's hard to say any other player would've been a better option. The Pacers needed a hero to step forward and there just wasn't one tonight.
- Turnovers and foul shots always bite the Pacers in these types of games. 18 (16 in the final three quarters) and 28 fouls were more than enough to let the Sixers back in the game. Meanwhile the Pacers couldn't get any calls at the hoop, so the free throw differential favored Philly, 31-17.
- Stephen Graham found himself in the rotation again tonight, playing 11 minutes including a critical stretch in the fourth quarter as JOB was looking to matchup with the athletic wing players for Philly.
- Early in the second quarter, Danny Granger and Marquis Daniels both had 13 points yet finished with only 18 and 17 points, respectively. It seemed like no one was scoring in the second half and with 14 fourth-quarter points, that's not far off.
- Thaddeus Young was an absolute beast, making the Sixers' small lineup change the game. He finished with 25 points including a couple of vicious putback dunks.
- Roy Hibbert had a quick night after picking up three fouls in one minute in the first quarter. He didn't return to the floor after the game went small.
- The night continued to go south for the Pacers after the game when cold shower water added to the frustrating loss. Yep, a trip to Chicago never sounded so good.