The Indiana Pacers came through in a game they could ill-afford to let slip away, leading wire-to-wire against the Philadelphia 76ers to snap a two game skid. The Pacers were far from dominant, but they were there to respond to every push the Sixers would make throughout the night. Indiana shot just 43% on the night, but made up for most of their overall play with 10 three pointers.
As a whole, Indiana knew they were playing Philadelphia, played like they were playing Philadelphia, and did enough to make sure they didn't screw it up against Philadelphia. The only real scare Indiana had was out out of the half, when the 76ers pushed the score to within two. Indiana responded by scoring the next six and holding Philly scoreless for 4:30 minutes. From there, Indiana simply worked to secure their first double figure win since January 28, wrapping up the 91-75 win.
Indiana did it with a balanced starting lineup; all five reaching double figures, led by Paul George, who finished with 15. George shot poorly, but led his way to the line for a 6-6 night. Ian Mahnmi did much of the early lifting for the Pacers' offense as part of a 12 point, 10 rebound double double. He and George Hill each reached 12 on 6-8 shooting. Myles Turner reached 10 points to go alongside six rebounds and three blocks. Monta Ellis had 13, leading Indiana with three three pointers.
The real story of the night was the return of Ty Lawson, who had a pair of stretches with the reserves, scoring six points on a pair of three pointers in 15 minutes. Lawson once again showed flashes of his speed and distribution skills, though he only had a pair of assists to his name. At this point, familiarity will be the key for Lawson and whatever lineup he plays most of his time with as there was plenty of up and down play from Rodney Stuckey (nine points, 3-12 shooting) and C.J. Miles (six points, 2-6 shooting).
The favorable schedule should give Indiana plenty of opportunity to secure a postseason bid and games like tonight are the ones they need to find consistency in pulling in. The overall effort was a step off, but tonight's win proved a valuable one as the 6th place Hornets came up with a huge home win over the Spurs, overcoming a 28-7 first quarter to win late to stay three games up on Indiana.
Meanwhile in Detroit, the Pistons stunned Milwaukee at the end to stay within a half a game of the 7th place Pacers. Securing their 27th consecutive home winning streak was a nice step for Indiana, but they'll need to stay sharp from here as they'll take the floor again on Thursday, hosting the lottery bound New Orleans Pelicans, who will be without Anthony Davis for the remainder of the season.