The Indiana Pacers saw another pathetic road collapse to drop them to 0-5 on the road on the season, handing the Philadelphia 76ers their first win of the season and snapping a 44-game October/November losing streak. The Pacers had the game lost in regulation before the Sixers gifted Indiana a chance to win in overtime when Gerald Henderson fouled Paul George, who tied the game at the line.
In overtime, Indiana put themselves in position to win, but shot just 2-11 in overtime, allowing Philadelphia to hold on for the 109-105 victory. Much of the game was reflected in the play of each team's starting center. Joel Embiid was a force, leading Philadelphia with 25 points and shooting 12-14 from the free throw line. Embiid had 16 in the 4th quarter and overtime, not only putting the Sixers on his back, but leading them to victory with his hustle plays.
On the other side of the ball, Myles Turner struggled immediately with Embiid's size, picking up two quick fouls and removing him from the game for much of the night. By the time Turner began to make an impact on the game, he had five fouls in overtime, and couldn't sustain his time on the floor. He finished with five points and five rebounds. There's no question Turner lacks the size to contend with massive centers like Embiid, but he also lacked focus defensively to not pick up cheap fouls, which Embiid feasted on all night.
Indiana led by 14 in the second quarter, but Philadelphia stormed back behind three point shooting to draw within one at the half. With all of the momentum, they build a solid second half base that, if nothing else, allowed them to overcome their mistakes to allow Embiid's strength to overcome. Embiid did receive plenty of help, however, with the Indiana defense allowing 11 more three pointers tonight, which is now their season average. Indiana hit just five.
Aside from the three pointing, rebounding was a game deciding issue for the Pacers, who not only didn't rebound their own misses (four offensive rebounds, three from Paul George), but they didn't stop Philadelphia from rebounding theirs (13 offensive rebounds, 15 second chance points). The Sixers had extra hustle on loose balls, giving them extra possessions Indiana couldn't come up with.
George led the Pacers with 26 points, getting to the line seven times. He left the game early with a left thumb sprain, but would return, and didn't appear to be phased by the injury. Nate McMillan shook up the starting lineup, placing C.J. Miles in the starting lineup in place of Monta Ellis. Both played well, with Miles scoring 13 and Ellis leading the bench with 19 points, with six rebounds, five assists, and four steals.
On a night where Indiana was 22-23 from the line, forced 19 turnovers on 14 steals, and outscored Philly in the paint 54-28 while holding the Sixers to a 41.9% shooting, it was their shortcomings that did them in. Indiana was outrebounded by 14 in addition to the -9 on the offensive glass. The lack of rebounding was apparent on both ends, and it simply didn't afford Indiana any room for mistakes, which they made plenty with cold shooting stretches in the third quarter and overtime.
As well, despite a healthy turnover edge, the Sixers still won the points off turnover battle 22-20. The three point defense continues to keep teams alive in games that could otherwise be wraps, and it's part of why they're 4-5, winless on the road, and losing to lottery teams. This wasn't the ideal way to kick off Indiana's back-to-back, as they will have to face the Boston Celtics at home tomorrow, as they'll look for some good vibes at Bankers Life for the upcoming home stands.