Pacers 111, 76ers 94

The Pacers were tired of explaining their inability to beat good

teams, so they did something about it.

Danny Granger scored 20 points to help Indiana beat the Atlantic

Division-leading Philadelphia 76ers 111-94 on Wednesday night.

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.”

Evan Turner scored 21 points, Jrue Holiday had 17, Elton Brand

added 16 and Iguodala had 10 points and nine assists for the 76ers.

Philadelphia shot 53 percent for the game but couldn’t get

stops.

”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