76ers 109, Pacers 106, OT
Philadelphia finally played like a team with a purpose.
Elton Brand scored 20 points and Lou Williams added 19 to help Philadelphia beat Indiana 109-106 in overtime Saturday night. The 76ers stopped the Pacers' winning streak at seven games to inch closer to a playoff berth.
''It's great for our confidence,'' Brand said. ''The hottest team in the NBA, on their court, close game, found a way to win in a playoff atmosphere.''
Jrue Holiday scored 17 points and Andre Iguodala added 16 for the 76ers, who need just a win or a loss by Milwaukee to clinch a postseason spot. The 76ers had lost seven of their previous 10 games, prompting coach Doug Collins to challenge his team.
''I just said, `You know, guys, we've worked so hard for two years. I would just hate like heck for us to let this season slip away from us,''' he said. ''`Let's give ourselves a chance to get into the playoffs. Let's see what we can do. Let's do our best.' And our guys responded.''
David West had a season-high 32 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Indiana. Tyler Hansbrough scored 17 points and Paul George added 16 for the Pacers, who could have locked up the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a win.
Indiana appreciated the intensity level so close to the postseason.
''That was a heck of a basketball game, playoff-type atmosphere,'' Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. ''Philly made some really tough shots at the end of regulation and overtime. It was a hard-fought game at both ends.''
Danny Granger, Indiana's top scorer this season, had four points on 2-for-12 shooting.
''He's a great shooter and he's got a quick release, so you've got to pay attention to him at all times,'' said Iguodala, who guarded him for most of the game. ''Even though the stat sheet didn't show it, he opens it up for his other teammates because you've got to help on him a little bit. I just tried to keep him off the 3-point line and put him in tough positions.''
Philadelphia led 107-106 late in overtime when Indiana's George Hill shot a quick 3-pointer. Philadelphia came up with the ball in a scramble, and Holiday's breakaway dunk gave the 76ers a 109-106 lead with 12.4 seconds left. Indiana was called for a 5-second violation when George couldn't get the ball inbounds, but the Pacers then forced a jump ball, won the tip and called a timeout with 10.7 seconds left.
Granger missed a 3-pointer, and the Pacers couldn't get the ball back outside to try to tie the game.
''We switched, and Thaddeus Young did a great job of guarding that,'' Iguodala said.
Williams opened the overtime with a four-point play. West fouled him on a 3-pointer, and Williams converted the free throw to take the air out of the crowd.
''It gave us some leverage, something to work with in that overtime,'' Williams said. ''I thought it gave us momentum a little bit and just some confidence to continue to move forward.''
Indiana fell behind 51-38 with 5:37 left in the second quarter before George got hot. He drained two 3-pointers to cut Indiana's deficit to 51-46. The Pacers continued their surge, and Hill's fadeaway at the buzzer gave Indiana a 54-53 lead. George scored 14 points in the quarter.
Philadelphia took control and led 81-74 at the end of the third quarter.
Consecutive layups by Hill cut Philadelphia's lead to 96-94, and Roy Hibbert tied the game on a tip-in with 2:28 to play. Two free throws by Young gave Philadelphia the lead again, but West's layup with 29.8 seconds left tied the game at 98.
Holiday missed, and Granger rebounded and called a timeout with 7.5 seconds left. George missed a jumper from near the free throw line as time expired, forcing overtime.
Indiana took some positives from the result.
''They outplayed us when they had to,'' Hansbrough said. ''We knew they were going to be tough and we were going to need a lift to keep things going our way. We did some good things out there, and we will have to learn from them and carry them over into the playoffs.''
Collins hopes the 76ers can build on the win.
''I couldn't have been more proud of our guys,'' Collins said. ''It would have been a shame if we had lost this game tonight because we played so well.''
Notes: Pacers PG Darren Collison entered the game in the first quarter. He had missed six of the previous seven games with a groin injury. He finished with eight points in 16 minutes. ... Indiana gave up 34 points in the first quarter, matching the second-highest total the Pacers surrendered in a first quarter this season. ... It was Indiana's first loss with Hill as its starting point guard. ... Philadelphia is 1-10 when allowing 100 or more points. ... Granger had scored at least 18 points in 14 straight games.
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