For a while, it looked as though the Philadelphia 76ers could very well end their 18-game losing streak against the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers ran out to an early lead but couldn't put the game away, and the feisty 76ers just kept chipping away at it until a final flurry helped the Pacers escape Philadephia with a 101-94 victory.
It wasn't pretty. The Pacers had 21 turnovers and shot just 14-22 from the free throw line. They only had 4 offensive rebounds all game. It was the first time the 76ers lost in single digits in more than a month. On the bright side, the Pacers did shoot 58% and held the 76ers to less than 39% shooting. Plus Miami had a surprsing loss to Denver to put them 3 games back from the Pacers (4 less wins and 2 more losses).
Paul George led the way with 25 points and was looking extremely confident with his shot on offense, but again he was sloppy with the ball in coughing up 5 turnovers. Just really careless stuff and not being away of where the defenders are.
David West had 18, George Hill had 14, 6 and 9, and Lance had 13, 12 and 4. Roy Hibbert had an inexcusable 4 points and 3 rebounds (3 rebounds!) but did have 5 blocks.
The surprise was Lavoy Allen, filling in for the injured Ian Mahinmi and the preserved Andrew Bynum (who will play in Detroit tomorrow night). Allen, who came in with Evan Turner in the Granger trade, had 13 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks on 6-6 shooting just 18 minutes. Luis Scola had 9 points and CJ Watson played for just 8 minutes in his return from elbow injured before straining his hamstring. It's likely he'll be out for a while again, and with Donald Sloan also missing tonight and tomorrow night for "personal reasons", it looks like Evan Turner and Lance will have to take on more PG duties, which could mean the turnover problem will continue.
Coach Frank Vogel tends to think the team is playing better, and the players themselves don't appear to be too concerned about going down to the wire against the biggest tanker in the league. Regardless of whether they have turned the corner or not, they'll certainly have a chance to build some momentum again if they can get past Detroit tomorrow night in the second night of a back-to-back. If they can, they'll have a chance to allow Philly to break their franchise record for consecutive losses (provided they lose their next time) and then play the struggling Knicks for an opportunity to string together 4 wins. From there the road gets tougher as they will play 2 games aginst the surging Bulls with a game against Memphis wedged in the middle. After that it'll be a mega showdown in Indy against Miami in what will be a crucial game in deciding home court advantage in the playoffs.