The 76ers look to complete a home-and-home sweep of the Pacers when the teams meet at the Wachovia Center on Monday night.
Philadelphia (15-28) is seeking its first three-game win streak of the season after a 107-97 victory at Indiana (15-29) on Saturday. Elton Brand(notes) scored 23 points and Thaddeus Young(notes) added 22 and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, who were well aware that they moved ahead of the Pacers in the East.
“In the standings, they were one-half game ahead of us and we needed to leapfrog them,” Brand said. “It’s halfway through the season, and we’re actually looking at the standings.”
Philadelphia trails eighth-place Chicago by 5 1/2 games in the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers improved to 10-13 since Allen Iverson(notes) joined the team Dec. 7 after a 5-15 start. Iverson scored 17 points Saturday and is averaging 14.7 with Philadelphia as he winds down his career.
“He means a lot more than his numbers,” coach Eddie Jordan said. “His spirit gives us momentum, his spirit gives us confidence, it gives us a sounding board, it gives us a calming effect. He means a lot.
“He’s special to us. He’s not the Allen we used to know back in 2001, but he adds leadership, toughness and some experience.”
Young notched his second straight 22-point effort since being removed from the starting lineup for a 92-81 win over Dallas on Friday. He started the first 41 games and has said he doesn’t agree with the change.
The Pacers played for the fourth time in five nights and were outrebounded 52-44 in their fourth loss in five games.
“Our guys played exhausted and we got outplayed, no question about it,” coach Jim O’Brien said. “Our guys are exhausted and they should be.”
Although both teams played Friday, the Sixers were clearly fresher. They forced 21 turnovers and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, leading to a 97-76 edge in shot attempts.
“Philadelphia has excellent hands,” O’Brien said. “They’re very strong at turning teams over. When you allow teams to get 21 more shots than you because of turnovers and offensive rebounds, you’re not going to win many games.”
Danny Granger(notes) scored 22 points to lead Indiana and rookie A.J. Price(notes) added 17 off the bench. Brandon Rush(notes) scored his 14 points in the first 17 minutes, with fatigue playing a factor in his poor second half.
“This is one we could’ve and should’ve won,” Rush said. “We couldn’t make shots when we needed.”
The Sixers are 7-14 at home, the second-worst mark in the East ahead of New Jersey. The Pacers are 5-18 on the road - fourth worst in the conference.