76ers 100, Pacers 96
Things sure have changed.
Andre Iguodala scored 25 points, and the 76ers won their seventh straight Saturday night with a 100-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers, who have lost eight in a row.
In recent years, the Pacers had been an Eastern Conference power that rarely lost at home, while the 76ers were an exciting team that often struggled. The 76ers looked the like seasoned winners against the Pacers, making 14 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter to claim their ninth road win of the season.
“When we needed to make shots, when we needed to have defensive stops, we got them,” Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. “That’s what our team has been doing over this stretch.”
Cheeks said little has changed for the 76ers except for their results.
“We’ve just been working ourselves into playing good basketball,” he said. “When we were struggling for a while, we were trying to do the same thing. There were some times where we weren’t getting wins out of it. This is the result of the things we were doing when we were struggling.”
Point guard Jamaal Tinsley was suspended for the game for conduct detrimental to the team. Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, sat out with a sprained left knee and Marquis Daniels, a key reserve, sat out with a sore left knee.
The recent slide has Indiana coach Rick Carlisle searching for silver linings.
“The personnel situation is tough,” he said. “The guys we had did enough good things to have something to build on.”
Iguodala, who has emerged as a star since the 76ers traded Allen Iverson, is averaging 25 during the winning streak. The 76ers are 22-10 when he scores at least 20 points.
“This team’s been through a lot this year as far as finding out what kind of character we have, learning new roles,” Philadelphia’s Kyle Korver said. “We’ve stayed patient and stayed positive, and I think learned a lot about the guys we had on this team. We’ve still got a long way to go, but I definitely feel like we’ve made some progress in the right direction. We hope it will continue.”
Philadelphia took a 92-86 lead on an alley-oop dunk by Samuel Dalembert on an assist from Iguodala with 1:37 left.
Dunleavy countered with a 3-pointer, but Miller came back with a short jumper to make it 94-89 with 50 seconds left.
Granger made one of two free throws with 12 seconds left to cut Philadelphia’s lead to 94-90, but Korver made two free throws at the other end with 11 seconds left.
Granger made a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left and another with 1.5 seconds to play, but Korver finally clinched the game by making two free throws with 0.9 seconds to play. He scored all of his 14 points in the second half.
Korver was happy to see the 76ers stay hungry after beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
“One of the biggest concerns you have during a winning streak is that everybody gets happy,” he said. “They don’t remember what got them there.”
The Pacers can barely remember what winning feels like. Their last victory came on Feb. 21 against Milwaukee.
“This losing string has to stop somewhere,” Granger said. “Our intensity has escalated. We’re playing with good effort, but we need better execution.”
Diogu said the Pacers are starting to worry about their postseason status.
“We were in good shape for the playoffs, but right now, it seems like we’re sliding, sliding, sliding ourselves right out of playoff position,” he said.
Former Pacer Reggie Miller watched from courtside. He received a standing ovation when his presence was announced during a timeout in the first quarter. Official Jess Kersey playfully tried to drag him onto the court. … Korver, the most recent victim of an errant Kobe Bryant elbow, showed no lingering effects. Bryant caught Korver near the neck with his left elbow on a drive to the hoop Friday night. Korver had a mark above his upper lip before Saturday’s game, but he said that was an old scar. “I didn’t think it was that big a deal,” he said. “I thought it was an offensive foul. After I saw it on replay, it looked a lot worse than I thought it was during the game. It all happens fast. It’s no big deal. It’s just part of the game.” … Carlisle wore a blue shirt with his suit for just the second time as Pacers coach. He traditionally wears a white shirt. … The Pacers had just three players available who were on last season’s playoff roster. … The 76ers were called for goaltending three times in the first half.