Granger scores 26, lifts Indiana past 76ers

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Allen Iverson(notes) expected the Philadelphia 76ers to own the kind of killer instinct that can finish off teams for good once they build a double-digit lead.

Because they don’t consistently have one, sub. 500-teams such as Indiana can rally and finish off the Sixers at home.

Danny Granger(notes) scored 26 points and Dahntay Jones(notes) had 18 points to lead the Pacers to a 109-98 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.

“At times, when we can put teams away, we go about it in a lackadaisical way,” Iverson said. “We’re going to continue to struggle as long as we don’t have that killer instinct that everybody’s been talking about.”

The Pacers earned a split of the home-and-home series after Philadelphia won 107-97 on Saturday night. Jones scored seven straight points late in the fourth quarter that helped the Pacers put this one away for a rare road win.

Brandon Rush(notes) scored 16 points, and Troy Murphy(notes) had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers.

“It’s hard to beat a team twice,” Granger said.

Andre Iguodala(notes) scored 22 points and Iverson had 20 for the Sixers. Philadelphia failed in its bid to win three straight games for the first time this season.

“We do a lot of things positive on the basketball court, we’re just not putting together whole games,” Iverson said. “That’s the frustrating part, because a game like this, we’re supposed to win.”

Pacers coach Jim O’Brien blamed Saturday’s loss on fatigue caused by a schedule that had the Pacers play nine sets of back-to-backs since Dec. 18. The Pacers had won Friday at Detroit.

Maybe a night’s rest made a difference down the stretch.

Jones hit a layup, a short jumper and converted a three-point play in about 90 seconds that gave the Pacers a five-point lead. Rush sealed it with a big 3-pointer that stretched the lead to 105-98 and sent fans fleeing toward the exits.

“I thought it was a game we can build on,” O’Brien said.

The Sixers can blame this loss on a miserable third quarter. They built a double-digit lead on some of their sharpest shooting of the season, only to watch it collapse because of a five-basket third quarter. The Sixers couldn’t make up for a nearly six-minute scoring drought spanning the third and fourth quarters.

Iguodala missed the bulk of the shots—a dreadful 2 of 9—that let the Pacers grab the lead for the first time in the game.

The Sixers shot 62 percent in the first half and only led by three. They also never trailed until Murphy’s 3-pointer minutes into the third put the Pacers ahead 63-60.

The Pacers kept making their shots and that was enough to win the battle between two struggling teams that still have a shot at the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

“We need to close games at home,” 76ers forward Elton Brand(notes) said. “We need to really put that team away.”

Iverson, an All-Star starter, got the Sixers back in a groove when his first 3 of the game pulled them within two. Lou Williams, who scored 16, sank three straight free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt that made it 91-90.

Murphy and Granger—who shot a combined 15 for 28—scored back-to-back buckets that held off the Sixers’ charge.

Iguodala fought inside for a tough basket that made it 95-92 and a fadeaway that kept the deficit at three. The Sixers just couldn’t make the stops. Jones tossed in a one-hander down the lane between Brand and Iguodala.

Williams, benched twice recently for the entire fourth quarter, cut it to 99-97 on a 3 in front of Indiana’s bench. It was just too late and the Sixers lost their 10th game after holding a double-digit lead.

“We went back to our old ways and let it slip away from us,” Iverson said. “Games like this, we’ve got to have.”

NOTES: Pacers F Tyler Hansbrough(notes) sat out with an inner ear infection. … Murphy has a double-double in each of the last five games. … The Sixers scored a season-low nine fastbreak points.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Indiana
D. Granger Danny Granger
11-20,  26 Pts
8 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Philadelphia
L. Williams Louis Williams
5-7,  16 Pts
2 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

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Monday, Jan 25