76ers-Pacers Preview

The Associated Press

Second-half comebacks have spurred the Indiana Pacers into a tie for the best record in the NBA.

An unbeaten home record has also helped.

The Pacers will try to make things easier on themselves and continue their best home start in 11 years Saturday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Indiana (11-1) is tied with San Antonio for the league's best record despite trailing at halftime in nine games. They've been able to overcome those scenarios eight times, including Friday's eight-point deficit in a 97-82 win at Boston.

Indiana's average of 41.2 points in the first half is the lowest in the NBA, and 12.9 lower than its second-half production.

"We need to come out and destroy teams early," guard Lance Stephenson said. "We can't rely on the second half to win the game."

A return home could be just what the Pacers need.

They've won all six games there by an average of 15.3 points, limiting opponents to 37.3 percent from the floor. Another strong defensive effort could help Indiana match its 7-0 home start from 2002-03.

"Our starters, as a unit, have a gear defensively that they can reach that's pretty special," coach Frank Vogel said.

Paul George's main contributions come in the offensive end, as he's among the league leaders with 24.6 points per game. The star guard scored 27 against the Celtics, getting 22 on 7 for 13 from the floor in the second half. That came two days after he had a season-high 35 points in a 103-96 overtime win at New York.

Indiana split four meetings with Philadelphia (6-8) last season, including two in Indianapolis. However, they fell 105-95 at home in the regular-season finale April 17, while resting George, David West, Roy Hibbert and George Hill in preparation for the playoffs.

That foursome made a tremendous impact in the previous home meeting with the Sixers, scoring 76 points in a 95-85 victory Dec. 14. George led the way with 28 points and three blocks.

George and the Pacers could be in for another big offensive effort since Philadelphia ranks last in the NBA in scoring defense (109.6). The team has held opponents under the century mark only twice.

The 76ers overcame another lackluster defensive effort in Friday's 115-107 overtime win against Milwaukee. They rallied from a 10-point deficit with 2:10 left in regulation, as Spencer Hawes forced the extra session by hitting a fadeaway 3 with 1.7 seconds to go. The center finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds while hitting half of his six attempts from beyond the arc.

"I guess the basketball gods were looking out for us and Spencer played well all night," said forward Evan Turner, who threw Hawes the inbounds pass before scoring eight of his 27 points in OT.

Turner leads the Sixers with 21.7 points per game after scoring 13.3 last season. He's totaled 38 over his last two visits to Indiana, while Hawes averages 7.4 with 3.3 boards in seven career games there.

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