The Indiana Pacers have virtually no chance of advancing to the postseason, but they still haven’t stopped fighting.
Back home Tuesday night following a winless trip, the Pacers look to snap a four-game slide as they face the Philadelphia 76ers for the final time this season.
With 11 losses in its last 13 games, Indiana (20-43) is well out of the Eastern Conference playoff race and will likely miss the postseason for the fourth straight year. Playing their fourth game in five days, the Pacers capped an 0-4 western swing Saturday with a 113-105 loss to Phoenix, but showed plenty of intensity against the Suns. With 46.7 seconds left in the third quarter, Pacers guard Earl Watson(notes) got into an altercation with Phoenix forward Channing Frye(notes), with Indiana teammates Danny Granger(notes) and Roy Hibbert(notes) jumping in to help.
“We have the reputation of being soft,” Watson said, “but we’re not going to give in to anybody.”
While the Pacers came to the defense of their teammate, they need to do a better job defending their opponents. Indiana allowed an average of 114.8 points on its trip and is among the worst in the East, giving up 104.7 per game.
Philadelphia (23-39) is averaging only 96.4 points while losing eight of 11, but is looking to build off Sunday’s 114-101 victory at Toronto.
Getting the start due to Samuel Dalembert(notes) being late to a team meeting, Thaddeus Young(notes) hit 13 of 18 shots and scored a career-high 32 points as all five starters scored in double figures to help the 76ers snap a five-game slide.
“Today was just a great day,” said Young, who scored 14 total points in his previous two games. “My teammates were looking for me and they put me in different positions.”
Young had 22 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in the 76ers’ last game at Conseco Fieldhouse - a 107-97 victory on Jan. 23.
The Pacers posted a 109-98 victory in Philadelphia two days later behind Granger’s 26 points and eight rebounds and 11 points and 12 boards from Troy Murphy(notes), who leads Indiana with 9.8 rebounds per game.
“Josh McRoberts has played solid offensively,” said coach Jim O’Brien. “If he can continue…and improve his defense, he’ll get more and more looks. Same with (guard) A.J. Price(notes)… But they’ll have to earn it.”
76ers point guard Jrue Holiday(notes) will keep getting plenty of minutes if he can continue playing like he did Sunday. Despite four turnovers, including one in the fourth quarter during a 8-0 Raptors run, the rookie scored seven of his 21 points in the final 4:28 and handed out six assists with a season high-tying seven boards.
“A rookie playing like that down the stretch, hitting big jumper after jumper, he got to the lane, got a layup and hit another three,” Elton Brand(notes) told NBA.com. “For him to bounce back like that is good for his confidence and good for us as a team.”
Philadelphia will try to post back-to-back victories for the first time since a season-high five-game winning streak Jan. 31-Feb. 9.
Indiana, meanwhile, looks to avoid its first five-game slide since dropping eight straight Dec. 18-30.