Pacers 111, 76ers 94
The Pacers were tired of explaining their inability to beat good teams, so they did something about it.
David West scored 18 points, George Hill had 17 and Roy Hibbert added 14 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Pacers. Indiana shot a season-best 57 percent from the field and outrebounded the 76ers 37-26.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel said it was his team's best offensive game of the season.
''I'm very proud of our guys for riding to the challenge and stepping up in a big game against a team that is going to be neck and neck with us down the stretch, a very good, impressive and well-coached basketball team,'' he said.
Indiana's losses during a recent four-game skid came against top Eastern Conference teams Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and Orlando. The Pacers didn't even bother trying to downplay the importance of Wednesday's win.
''It helps a lot,'' Granger said. ''This game had more meaning than probably most people realized.''
Philadelphia allowed 100 or more points for just the seventh time this season and ended a stretch of holding 12 consecutive opponents under the century mark. The 76ers entered the night leading the league in scoring defense, field-goal percentage defense and steals, but they gave up their highest field-goal percentage in a game this season and saw the end of their three-game win streak.
''They're a great basketball team, and I thought this was our poorest defensive game all season,'' 76ers coach Doug Collins said. ''I don't think we had any answer for them defensively.''
While he respected the Pacers, Collins was less impressed with the way the game was called. He talked to the officials after the game ended, then mentioned that Indiana committed three fouls in the final three quarters during his postgame interview. Indiana committed eight fouls the entire game.
Granger was efficient, making 8 of 13 shots while going inside more often than usual in his matchup with Andre Iguodala.
''He got it going early, and we're always going to go to the hot hand,'' Vogel said. ''We continued to go to him and he continued to produce and to make the right plays.''
''Sometimes when you play well on offense, your defense kind of suffers,'' Brand said. ''That's what happened tonight. We didn't have the defensive intensity to get stops. It was too easy for them.''
Paul George's dunk as time ran out on the shot clock gave the Pacers a 54-51 lead with 10.1 seconds left in the first half. He was fouled on the play and missed the free throw, so the Pacers maintained a three point lead at the break. Indiana shot 13 for 21 from the field in the second quarter and 56 percent for the half. It was an entertaining half, as both teams shot over 50 percent and combined for just eight turnovers.
Granger's 3-pointer midway through the third quarter pushed Indiana's lead to 70-64, but the 76ers came right back and cut it to one on a pullup by Holiday.
The Pacers closed the quarter strong. A 3 by Dahntay Jones in the final minute, then another by Hill with 1.1 seconds left in the quarter gave Indiana an 83-75 lead heading into the fourth. Indiana shot 65 percent in the third quarter.
The Pacers opened the quarter on a 6-2 run, sparked by two baskets by Lou Amundson, to take an 89-77 lead.
The 76ers surged back once more. A jumper by Brand cut Indiana's lead to 95-88, but back-to-back 3s by Hill made it 103-88 with just over four minutes to play. His shots highlighted a 12-0 run that lasted more than five minutes and put the game out of reach.
''They hit shots,'' Turner said. ''All the momentum rolled their way.''
Even with their recent struggles, the Pacers remained confident.
''We're a good team, and we're a team that rises to the challenge,'' Vogel said. ''We have a big-game mentality that that's going to bode well for us.''
NOTES: Philadelphia C Spencer Hawes played for the first time since Feb. 6. He had been out with a left Achilles strain. He finished with six points and five fouls... The teams shot a combined 19 for 35 in the first quarter. Philadelphia led 29-24 at the end of the period. ... Granger had a perfect third quarter - he went 3 for 3 from the field and made the only 3-pointer and only free throw he tried. ... Indiana's reserves outscored Philadelphia's 47-24.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap