Sixers Fall in Home Finale to Pacers

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Indiana 120, Philadelphia 111 – Box Score

In the final home game of the season, in front of fans who have put up with an inordinate amount of losing the last few years, it initially looked as though the Sixers would go quietly with another listless effort. Having a huge last month of the season as he guns for an all-NBA spot and the associated eligibility for a super-max contract when he next hits free agency, Paul George nearly outscored Philadelphia by himself in the first quarter. The Pacers superstar scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the opening stanza; Indiana would lead by as many as 21 points in the first half.

Instead, the game turned surprisingly competitive, even violent at times, led first by an 11-0 Sixers run in the second quarter to get back into the game. Richaun Holmes was at the center of that surge, scoring 10 of his 17 points in the frame, mostly via rim-rattling dunks. Myles Turner had a nice game with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks, but as we already learned earlier this season, Holmes has absolutely no fear of challenging the young Pacers center at the cup.

In the second half, as the Sixers pulled within as close as 5 points, it was rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot dominating for Philadelphia. TLC went off for a career-high 24 points, shooting 4-5 from three and looking increasingly comfortable as a shot creator. He canned a mid-range turnaround jumper at one point, something I’d never even seen him attempt before. These late-season reps as a starter have been great for Luwawu in expanding his game beyond a passive 3-and-D role on the court; it can only help him down the road.

Things got heated down the stretch, particularly between Gerald Henderson and Paul George. The pair got into it with each other earlier in the second half, tussling as Henderson attempted to body up George on the defensive end. The pair each picked up a technical. Then, with a few minutes remaining in the game, Henderson threw a nasty elbow to the George’s face while driving to the hole. Video later revealed it was a retaliation for George throwing an elbow to Henderson’s back as the two players were running up court. Henderson ended up with a flagrant-2 foul, while George also got a second technical. Both players were ejected. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time left for it to matter that the Pacers had lost their superstar for the rest of the game.

With only Wednesday night’s contest on the road against the Knicks remaining for the Sixers, they still sit tied with the Magic for the 4th-worst record in the league. Given that Orlando just lost by 47 points to Chicago, I’m not holding my breath that they will do much of anything against Detroit. The Sixers will need to reconcile one more loss to give themselves the best chance in next month’s lottery.

Other Game Notes:

  • Alex Poythress hit his first 5 three-point attempts for a career-high 15 points. The D-league call-up was 1-9 from behind the arc entering the game, so let’s not crown him the league’s next stretch-four, but certainly a nice game for Poythress.
  • Longtime Sixer Thad Young had a great game, accruing 20 points and 8 rebounds with his usual brand of hustle and scoring in the margins of the action. I’m glad it looks like Thad will get back to the playoffs after he bounced around with some very bad teams the last few years.

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