INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — If not for Paul George, the Philadelphia 76ers might have left Indiana with their first win of the season.
On Wednesday night, two familiar storylines played out in the game’s final minutes: the Pacers once again relied on their All-Star forward to pull out a close win at home; and the Sixers lost yet another close game.
George, who finished with 28 points and eight rebounds, scored seven of the Pacers’ 13 points in overtime to defeat the Sixers 122-115.
"They’re a young group. They’re still going to come out and be competitive. That’s what we overlooked," George said.
The Sixers were resilient all game, and multiple times during the final 3 minutes they looked as if they were going to put the game away. The 76ers led by as many as six points with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game before Jeff Teague hit a floater in the lane to give Indiana a one-point lead. With 6 seconds remaining in regulation, Gerald Henderson hit a 3-pointer to give Philadelphia a 2-point lead. But on the ensuing Pacers’ possession, George hit a baseline jumper with 3 seconds left to tie it at 109.
On the Pacers’ first possession of overtime, George set the tone with a 3-pointer to give Indiana the lead. And it was George who threw down an emphatic dunk that gave Indiana a six-point lead, ultimately sealing the win for the Pacers.
"Coach drew up a play for the 3-pointer to open up overtime," George said. "Those moments, I have experience.Those plays suck the life out of you, and I knew at that moment we needed to play (with urgency)."
Teague finished with a season-high 30 points and added nine assists. Teague and George combined to score Indiana’s final 15 points of the fourth quarter. Myles Turner finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for Indiana.
The final score won’t show how much Philadelphia controlled Wednesday night’s game at times. The Pacers could not pull away from the Sixers throughout much of the game, and even squandered the small lead they held at one point, having to climb back from a double-digit deficit. Indiana led 37-34 halfway through the second quarter when the 76ers opened up a 13-0 run to take a 10-point lead. Indiana answered with a 10-2 run to pull within single digits, but the 76ers went into halftime leading 60-54.
Philadelphia even had an opportunity to win the game in the fourth quarter. With about 3 seconds left in regulation, Jahlil Okafor attempted a fade-away jumper from the baseline that bounced off the back of the rim as time expired.
Robert Covington led the Sixers with 23 points. Henderson finished with 17 points and five rebounds while Dario Saric had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
"We had a lot of balance in our scoring, but we gave up a few too many points," Henderson said. "A couple of times we messed up on game plan-type stuff and had some silly turnovers. We deserved to win the game, we just came up a little short, and we move on."
Saric was searching for an answer.
"I don’t know what to say," he said. "We fall a point short. We have to continue to work hard in practice, everyone give 100 percent and a win will come one day. We hope it comes in the next game at home, in front of our fans, they deserve it."
Philadelphia: Joel Embiid did not travel with the team to Indiana, remaining in Philadelphia for rest.
Indiana: The Pacers have won 10 of the last 11 regular-season meetings with the 76ers dating to 2013-14. … Indiana has won six straight games over Philadelphia at home. The 76ers’ last win at Indiana came in April 2013.
Covington scored a combined total of 32 points through the first six games of the season before his 23-point outing on Wednesday night.
HOME SWEET HOME
Indiana is 4-0 at home this season. And when they’re defending their home court, they’re doing so with impressive offensive outings. Before Wednesday night’s win over Philadelphia, the Pacers were averaging 118.7 points at home.
76ers: Host Indiana on Friday to complete the home and home.