The Indiana Pacers rode a strong fourth quarter effort to put themselves back into the win column against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Pacers got a winning push from Lance Stephenson in the fourth, scoring 12 of his 14 in the quarter. Stephenson had his fingerprints all over the game in the fourth with six rebounds and a pair of assists, breaking the Pacers out of an offensive slump in the quarter.
Indiana had been forced to contend with a Philadelphia three point onslaught in the first half, erasing a 13-point advantage in the second quarter. Philly hit six threes in the second quarter and added in a three point play to tie the game at 50 apiece. Indiana would lead 62-57 at the break, but it would be a slough in the third as the Pacers shot just 4-17 from the floor.
While the offense struggled, the Pacers did bring a real fight on the defensive end, holding the 76ers to 18 points to keep the game in check while they searched for some kind of offensive consistency. The second half defense carried over into the fourth, with the Pacers eventually holding Philadelphia to just 35 second half points.
The Sixers would push the lead down to six in the final minute, however, with J.J. Redick hitting Philadelphia’s only three of the second half and then being the beneficiary of a very questionable three point shooting foul. The Pacers fought hard against the Sixers defense on the ensuing possession, with Domantas Sabonis getting on the floor to find Darren Collison for the dagger.
Indiana’s defense got after the 76ers all night, coming up with 15 steals that the Pacers used to score 22 points off turnovers, 19 points in the fast break. This helped the Pacers overcome a dispiriting effort on the offensive glass, with Philly outrebounding Indiana 15-6, where they were outscored 12-2 off of those rebounds.
The Pacers got a total team effort beyond Stephenson’s performance late, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds, with Al Jefferson in particular stepping in to give great minutes with Myles Turner playing just 15 minutes, hampered with foul trouble. Jefferson played very well against Joel Embiid, scoring nine points against the big man, who was playing his first back-to-back of his career.
Cory Joseph put in a pair of threes and Sabonis not only dove for loose balls, but filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Indiana’s bench had seven steals on the night as all five bench players picked up a steal, including Joe Young in his short stint.
In the starting lineup, Bojan Bogdanovic continued his positive shooting effort, scoring 19 points on 4-7 three point shooting. Bogdanovic hit four of Indiana’s nine on the night, as the Pacers did struggle at just 33% from deep. Victor Oladipo also scored 19, but was 0-5 from deep. Oladipo’s three point shooting has been just 33% since his return from injury, but he continues to make contributions elsewhere, coming up with three steals and nine rebounds.
Darren Collison was 1-2 himself from three point range, scoring 11, joining Thaddeus Young in double figures, who scored 10. The Pacers shot 44% on the game after a 56% first half, but did a fantastic job digging in in the second half when their shooting went away, leading them to not only a good win, but one against a team that they’re looking at in the standings.
The Pacers move to three games ahead of the 8th place 76ers, but the win was key as Philly has also played four less games, giving Indiana a one up in the loss column. The win pushed Indiana up into the 5th seed in the East and to their 30th win of the year, a number that was projected to be their win total for the season.
Indiana will wrap up this short two-game homestand with a game against the suddenly surging Washington Wizards on Monday. The Wizards are without John Wall, but have gone 4-0 in his stead, giving the Pacers a tough task to extend their home winning streak.