When a game features 10 lead changes in the final quarter, it’s typically the team that has the ball last that comes away with the win. Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, they were the team with the ball last and came away with the loss. With a 114-113 lead with 41 seconds left, T.J. Warren drove inside and tried to pass out right into the hands of Ben Simmons for an easy go-ahead basket for Tobias Harris.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Pacers botched the ensuing inbounds pass, turning it over again and sending Harris to the line to seal the win for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Pacers for the game had 20 turnovers, which consistently worked against their best interests in winning the game, putting them into the loss column for the first time in two weeks.
The frustrating nature of the loss hangs like a cloud over what was otherwise a gutsy and resilient performance for the Pacers to even be in that position late. Indiana was completely overwhelmed early, falling behind by double figures in the first quarter, eventually trailing heading into the second 38-29.
The 76ers pushed their lead even further in the second, leading 55-40 with 6:31 remaining in the half. From there, the Pacers finally began to force turnovers on the Sixers, who to that point had just a single miscue. Three steals to end the half made things easier for an already potent Indiana offense, allowing them to close on a 25-10 run, capped by four points from Justin Holiday to tie the game at the break.
Fantastic final 30 seconds of the half from the Pacers, especially Justin Holiday. This game is all tied up with one half to go: pic.twitter.com/WvbCYzCm4k— Tony East (@TEastNBA) December 1, 2019
In the third quarter, the Pacers were able to push themselves into the lead, jumping ahead by as many as seven, but every push Indiana made was met by a response from Philly, if not aided by an Indiana turnover. The teams would play to a draw heading into the fourth, with big plays from both teams taking over in the final quarter.
Before eventually fouling out in the fourth, Domantas Sabonis had two costly fouls late in the fourth, one a moving screen that would wipe away a three early in the quarter and a foul on Joel Embiid with the Pacers up two having just gotten a key stop with 2:38 left in the game. These kinds of plays encapsulated Indiana’s inability to play within their margin for error, ultimately playing a key part in the loss.
The Pacers had 20 turnovers for the game, which led to a 23-16 advantage for Philadelphia in points off turnovers. Add in a 24-16 foul disparity which gave the 76ers a 32-21 advantage at the free throw line (including a perfect 22-22 for Embiid and Simmons) and each mistake the Pacers made was lethal in a game where they otherwise played very well.
Indiana shot 55.3% for the game, including 11-22 from three point range. One of the most fascinating aspects of the game was how Pacers were alive and well despite their mistakes and slow start, which speaks volumes to the wealth of scoring the team has added in players like Warren, Jeremy Lamb, and Malcolm Brogdon.
Warren led the way for the Pacers with 29 points, including a perfect 4-4 from three point range. Brogdon was much more involved than he was last night, scoring 28 ponits with six assists, working through the Philly defensive adjustments designed to throw him off. Even with their positives, the mistakes of both players felt like they carried more weight due to the loss.
Warren’s decision to pass out of the paint to Simmons was odd as was Brogdon setting up Simmons for a soft serve block on a fast break layup. It was the opposite type of game for Myles Turner, who despite altering Simmon’s shot late and picking up a steal with 30 seconds left, couldn’t escape a completely disasterous showing against Embiid.
Turner finished with just three points and three rebounds in 29 minutes, picking up a pair of quick fouls on Embiid that effectively removed him from the game. Turner shot 1-8 from the floor and struggled to stay on Al Horford in the first half when he did return in the second quarter, with Horford getting off a pair of threes against a sagging Turner.
Sabonis worked better in terms of physicality in matching up with Embiid, but hardly did a great job. No matter the opposition, Embiid was able to get to the line any time he wanted, which set him up for a 15-15 night, removing Turner early and fouling out Sabonis late. Interestingly, Goga Bitadze may have been the most effective against Embiid, but it’s hard to tell when he logged just five minutes.
Off the bench, J. Holiday led the way with 10 points, joined by Doug McDermott with eight. Both players were 2-3 from three point range, with McDermott again hitting a pair of threes in the fourth. Holiday was a big factor early, but was neutralized when the Sixers began to force feed Harris against Holiday, removing his ball hawking abilities.
T.J. McConnell had some nice minutes early after getting a warm welcome from fans upon his return to Philly, but he and Aaron Holiday struggled to put a stamp on the game in the second half when an x-factor type of performance off the bench could’ve been enough to push the Pacers over the top.
The Pacers won’t have a chance for revenge against Philadelphia until December 31 when the teams will meet up in Indianapolis. In the meantime, the Pacers will continue their five game road trip, traveling west to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday to wrap up their season series.