INDIANAPOLIS – We may only be a few days into February, but the Indiana Pacers (30-24) played an important game on Saturday night. And they got an important win.
Facing the Philadelphia 76ers (25-25), who sat two games behind Indy entering the contest, the Blue and Gold secured a nice 100-92 victory. The win puts the Pacers in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings, a game behind the Washington Wizards (who come to Indianapolis on Monday).
Each side played well in Saturday’s first quarter, with the Pacers leading 33-27. Period one was relatively even, while period two was a bit more topsy-turvy.
Indiana opened the second quarter on a roll, reeling off a 7-0 run that helped the home team add on to their lead. That lead grew as large as 13, but the Sixers didn’t back down. Three-point shooting sparked a 19-6 run by Philly, as the 76ers roared all the way back to go in front. The Pacers saved face, though, using a 12-6 run to go into the half with a 62-57 edge.
After a first half full of solid offense, neither team had it going in the third. Philadelphia outscored Indiana 18-14 in the frame, cutting the Pacers’ lead down to one at 76-75 after three quarters of play.
With the Sixers closing in, Indy needed something (or someone) to turn momentum. Lance Stephenson, who has done that time and time again, was just the man for the job.
Stephenson scored or assisted on each of Indiana’s first six baskets in the fourth, leaving the Pacers with a ten-point lead. The 76ers never recovered, despite trimming their deficit down to six with minimal time remaining, as Indy emerged with a big win in the playoff standings.
Off of the bench, Stephenson nearly recorded a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic tied for the lead among Pacer scorers, each finishing with 19 points.
As for Philadelphia, Joel Embiid impressed. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back for the first time in his career, Embiid finished with 24 points and ten boards.
The Pacers will return to action on Monday, facing Washington in the aforementioned matchup with playoff implications. Game time from the Circle City is 7:00 p.m.