A lights-out offensive showcase from both the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers favored the road Sixers in the end as the Pacers came apart at the seams in the fourth quarter. In a game neither team led by more than six up until the final quarter, Philadelphia used a crucial 10-0 run to go up by double figures, holding off Indiana down the stretch as the Pacers struggled with turnovers and missed free throws.
It was a frustrating loss for a number of reasons, but it starts with Indiana’s fourth quarter offense, mustering up “just” 29 points in one of the highest scoring games of the year. The Pacers shot well in the quarter, going 9-16, but after committing just four turnovers in the first three quarters, they had five in the fourth while Philadelphia had none.
It was a similar story at the free throw line, with the Pacers successfully working their way to the line, but continuously failing to convert on their attempts. On seven different trips to the line, the Pacers converted all of their attempts just twice, leaving five points on the board while the 76ers again showed Indiana how it was done, making all eight of their attempts.
Of course, it didn’t help that the fourth quarter got a little out of hands in terms of officiating, with questionable whistles and blown fast break opportunities frustrating the young Pacers down the stretch, though Rick Carlisle was quick to divert any potential fines away from him after the game, claiming that was not the case.
Up until Philly’s 10-0 run early in the fourth, the game had been nothing but fireworks, featuring 32 lead changes and 26 ties to that point. The game sat at 79-78 at halftime, one point up on the recent Kings-Clippers game that wrapped up in the 170’s, after Tyrese Haliburton knocked down another buzzer beater to end the half.
Haliburton beats the buzzer to give the #Pacers the halftime lead!— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) March 7, 2023
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Stream: https://t.co/Wilcs4PuZx pic.twitter.com/KdGBQIiqGp
While Carlisle wasn’t interested in speaking on the officiating, he was interested in speaking on Haliburton’s play, calling him a “franchise pillar” according to Dustin Dopirak. It’s hard not to see why after his play on this back-to-back, following up a 26 points, 11 assist game against Chicago with a 40 & 16 performance tonight, shooting 12-19 from the floor, hitting five threes, and leading Indiana at the free throw line at 11-12.
With both teams shooting over 58% on the night, there was ample opportunity for assists as seven Pacers reached double figures. One of the least likely to get there was Myles Turner, putting up 10 points in just 17 minutes, spending a majority of the first half on the bench with fouls piling up against Joel Embiid.
Turner wound up making the most of his minutes in the second half by scoring 10, but would foul out on one of the many tough calls against Embiid. While the Turner/Embiid matchup has been decidedly one-sided, it was frustrating to see the differences in physicality allowed between the two centers, with Turner getting caught on light calls and Embiid bowling his way to the basket, attempting 19 free throws.
While one of Embiid’s trips to the line was bowling over Jalen Smith, it was a successful night for the backup center, who got minutes backing up Turner’s foul trouble. Smith was a bit more successful when not getting thrown to the ground, scoring 14 points and blocking two shots in his 21 minutes.
Jordan Nwora flashed his offense tonight, scoring 16 points on 7-12 shooting, displaying some level of craftiness in how he scored. That proved key at times in the first when Indiana could’ve succumb to a Philly run in the first, notching 12 points before the break. Buddy Hield meanwhile had 15 and eight rebounds, shooting much better at 4-7, but was a surprising 1-4 at the free throw line, one of many Pacers to struggle shooting from the line.
Among the many first half success stories was T.J. McConnell, scoring eight points on 3-3 shooting with three assists and three steals in the first half, showing out against his former team. Unfortunately, McConnell missed two crucial shots during Philadelphia’s 10-0 run, two he typically makes, one of many tough breaks for the Pacers, though he did finish with 12.
Bennedict Mathurin also reached double figures with 13 points, playing the closest in matching Philly’s foul-hunting style of play, working his way to the line six times. Unfortunately, he missed half of those. Combined with Turner’s 2-4 night, the trio of he, Mathurin, and Hield were just 6-14, a brutal night for a trio that shoots a combined 82% from the line.
Elsewhere, Andrew Nembhard scored seven, making things a bit easier for him with a pair of baskets at the rim. A three quarter court attempt ruined an otherwise perfect shooting night that included a three at 3-4 overall. Chris Duarte pitched in with four points, but he and Nembhard combined for four steals as Indiana topped the Sixers 19-10 in points off turnovers. Oshae Brissett continued to play well in his minutes, scoring eight on 3-4 shooting, also hitting a three while Isaiah Jackson scored four, blocking a shot.
The loss drops Indiana back into 12th at 29-37 as Chicago sits idle, but they remain highly competitive even in losses since the return from the All-Star break. Assuming their head-scratching loss to San Antonio remains an anomaly, they have a shot at running off some wins in the coming week, hosting the Houston Rockets on Thursday before a weekend series in Detroit this weekend.