Young, Bogdanovic lead Pacers past 76ers for sixth straight victory
PHILADELPHIA — Bojan Bogdanovic excitedly slammed the ball to the floor as the final second ticked off and a stunned crowd headed for the exits.
For the entire night, 76ers center Joel Embiid electrified Philadelphia fans with one of the best individual performances of the season. In the end, it was the Indiana Pacers who made the most emphatic statement.
— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) December 15, 2018
Thaddeus Young had a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds against his former team, Bogdanovic added 18 points, and the Pacers overcame Embiid’s 40-point night to beat the 76ers 113-101 on Friday in a matchup of Eastern Conference contenders.
“This was a team win,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.
Embiid also had 21 rebounds, becoming the first Sixers player with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Charles Barkley on Dec. 7, 1990. Embiid is the first player in the NBA this season with a 40-point, 20-rebound game.
“It wasn’t enough,” Embiid said. “Next time I’ve gotta get 50 and 25, I guess. It doesn’t matter what I had. At the end of the day, we didn’t come up with the win.”
JJ Redick added 22 points and Ben Simmons had 18 for the Sixers (19-11), who dropped their second straight at home after starting the season 14-1 in their own building. Both losses came without four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, who’s been out with a strained groin.
Victor Oladipo played in his second consecutive game after missing 11 in a row with a knee injury and had 14 points and nine assists for Indiana (19-10), including a few clutch jumpers in the fourth quarter.
Domantas Sabonis had 14 points and 16 rebounds off the bench, and the Pacers won their sixth straight to pass the Sixers in the standings.
“It was good to see him make those plays down the stretch,” McMillan said of Oladipo. “That was one thing we really missed when he was out — he’s kind of the closer for us.”
Fueled by consecutive 3-pointers from Bogdanovic, the Pacers erased a 10-point halftime deficit to take an 80-77 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Bogdanovic’s 3 with 3:46 left stretched Indiana’s lead to 102-92.
Facing the league’s second-best defense, the Sixers jumped out to a 12-2 lead and scored 34 points in the first quarter. After the Pacers went on a 12-0 run to tie it at 38, Embiid exploded for 14 points in the final five minutes of the second quarter, including an acrobatic reverse layup while getting fouled, to put Philadelphia ahead 59-49 at the half.
“M-V-P” chants rang out during the surge for Embiid, who had 28 points and 14 rebounds in the first half. The 7-foot-2 center has posted at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in consecutive first halves, becoming the only player in the NBA with multiple 20-10 first halves this season.
The Pacers adjusted with more double-teams to slow him down a bit after the break.
“I did feel like he fatigued,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “And I give some of that credit to Indiana because of how physical they were in the second half.”
Pacers: Cory Joseph had 14 points off the bench. … The Pacers avenged a November loss to the Sixers in a game in which Oladipo scored a season-high 36 points.
76ers: Brown said before the game that Butler will likely return soon, perhaps for the team’s next game Sunday. … Mike Muscala (upper respiratory infection) was back after missing Wednesday’s game but shot just 1 for 8 from the field.
ALL ABOUT RESILIENCE
When asked the defining trait of Indiana’s six-game winning streak, Young pointed to the team’s resilience.
“We continue to fight, continue to be there one another,” said Young, a 12-year NBA veteran who spent the first seven years of his career in Philadelphia. “I think the unity in this locker room is like no other.”
NOT LOOKING AHEAD
Although the Sixers and Pacers are two of the top teams in the East, both downplayed the significance of the result in terms of being a potential playoff showcase.
“We ain’t worried about putting anyone on notice,” McMillan said.
“We’re not on red alert,” Embiid said.
Pacers: Host New York on Sunday.
76ers: At Cleveland on Sunday.