For a team that plays as stingy and ruthless on one end — the alpha of the Association, showing opponents how to dig in and 'D' up — the Indiana Pacers can act a bit too unselfish. A little too concerned with sharing the ball. A pinch too caught up in passing up one good shot to find a better one. This behavior, although surely appreciated by fundamental purists across the state, can weigh down an offense just as bad as having five J.R. Smiths on your team. So on Saturday night, while the Pacers performed as one on the defensive end and defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, it wasn't always a matter of making it look easy and fluid in the 106-98 win. The Pacers allowed the game to be closer than anyone could have expected against Philadelphia (6-9) until they re-discovered their superiority in the final five minutes to pull away from the 86-86 tie. Philadelphia rookie Michael Carter-Williams scored a game-high 29 points but big 3-point plays from Roy Hibbert and Paul George sparked the final surge as the Pacers mproved to 12-1 by the end of the night. Also, all five Pacers starters managed to score in double figures — a testament to the team balance in spite of the offensive dry spells. "I think as deep as we are sometimes, maybe sometimes we get a little too unselfish," power forward David West said. "But we're improving, it's a long year. I feel like as long as our defense is solid, we'll be able to pick up wins and continue to put together good games." Certainly, as long as the Pacers can force an opponent to miss 67 shots like Philadelphia did on Saturday, then they'll thrive as one of the top teams in the NBA. There's little, if any, to nitpick about a squad that can get defensive like the Pacers. When Philadelphia could not get out in transition (19 points), the Sixers scrapped for field goal makes and shot just 34 percent. Hibbert made things even more difficult, adding six blocks to his league-leading 56 total and frustrating the life out of Sixers' top player Evan Turner who shot 8-of-26 from the floor. Note the coming sarcasm. "He's a great defender," Turner said of Hibbert, who also scored a season-best 27 points to go with 13 rebounds. "I don't know many seven footers that you can attack 25 times and only have two fouls against him. To be successful like that at a 95-percent clip, that doesn't make sense to me." But lost in this season narrative of heroic second halves and robust defensive efforts, are the problems that often plague the offense.
Pacers subdue Sixers 106-98
Indianapolis Star | Nov 24