The Pacers season-long mantra reared its ugly head again Saturday -- "when all else fails, just launch a bunch of freakin' 3's".
After keeping pace with the Sixers for three quarters tonight, the Pacers reliance on shots from behind the arc finally bit them again as the team clanked 3-point attempt after 3-point attempt while allowing the Sixers to gain offensive momentum to put the game away, a 107-97 loss for the home team.
Whenever you make only 37 percent (10-of-27) of your 3-point attempts, it's probably not a good idea to make it your go-to shot that evening. The Sixers pressured the Pacers' players to the perimeter and without a post presence (Roy Hibbert was 1-for-6 from the field in 24 minutes), the blue and gold took 35 percent of their total shots with their toes behind the line. The Pacers treated the post like it was chalk-full of landmines, tip-toeing around with frightened looks of terror while frantically lobbing the ball through players hands and out-of-bounds. The timid approach to the post, and a fiesty, athletic defensive presence from the Sixers resulted in 21 turnovers for Indiana, compared to Philadelphia's 10.
Danny Granger had 22 points, A.J. Price added 17 and Troy Murphy had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers.
Indiana made a late run in the fourth to keep the crowd in the game. After trailing by 13 heading into the fourth quarter, the Pacers cut it to 88-83 after Price drilled consecutive 3-pointers. Philadelphia answered with an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to make it 99-83. Thaddeus Young had seven points during the spurt.
Philadelphia took its biggest lead, 74-58, on Iverson's jumper with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Indiana cut the deficit to nine before falling behind 86-73 entering the final period.
It all added up to a lost opportunity in front of an energized crowd at Conseco "Reggie Miller" Fieldhouse. Compared to last Saturday's low turnout before the Colts game, tonight's crowd was passionate throughout the night. A few Jets fans made for some fun between the home crowd and the visitors from New Jersey. I particularly enjoyed the expletive-laced, alcohol-induced feud that developed in the closing minutes when the game was over between fans in my section. I'll assume several arrests were made in the downtown area tonight. Passion was all the rage in Indy tonight.
Brandon Rush helped the Pacers get off to a strong start tonight as he lit up Iverson from the post and from long range. Rush made 6-of-11 shots for 14 points, but the problem was that he had the 14 points by midway in the second quarter. The second-year player was completely neglected in the second half. Credit the Sixers defense, but also credit the lack of offensive flow through Rush.
Elton Brand scored 23 points and Young had 22 points and 10 rebounds, but the main attraction was watching an aged Allen Iverson take the court. He still received one of the bigger ovations from the crowd when he was announced to the crowd. Although he settled for mid-range jumpers instead of exploding into the lane, the guard still totaled 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. Philadelphia won consecutive games for just the fourth time this season.
- Sixers' rookie guard Jrue Holiday needed 12 stitches to close a cut above his right eye after banging his head on the court in the first quarter. He played only 11 minutes after starting alongside Iverson in the backcourt. His bandage covered a large portion of his head. Fun times.
- The halftime act was a major disappointment tonight. I mean, I enjoy saxophone elevator music as much as the next guy, but I don't need a one-man band wailing away during my halftime act. How am I supposed to get excited for the third quarter (which our team probably won't show up for anyway) with this guy swaying to muzak? Bring back the trampoline guys!
- T.J. Ford made it back to the active roster tonight, although he received a DNP-CD.
- On to the Colts....