Sixers Outlast Pacers in shootout, win 147-143

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid goes to the basket against Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The Sixers came into their matchup with the Indiana Pacers looking to continue their winning streak after a gritty comeback win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. This had the potential to be a letdown game for a Philly squad, who was on the road for their fourth straight game and playing on the front end of a back-to-back.

Sixers vs Pacers game recap

In a game where defense seemed to be optional from the tip, the 76ers and Pacers exchanged baskets all night long. The score was 39-38 at the end of the first quarter and 79-78 at halftime. Both teams shot 58 percent from the floor and over 40 percent from the three-point line. There were tons of fast break points and the Pacers amassed 70 points in the paint.

As the fourth quarter began, it seemed that the team who was able to string together multiple stops in a row would come out the winner and the 76ers were able to do that. That proved to be enough for the Sixers to win this game. They were led by their two stars who dominated offensively. Joel Embiid led all scorers with 42 points, while James Harden tallied 20 assists. The Indiana Pacers were led by Tyrese Haliburton, who scored 40 points and dished 16 assists.

Where’s the Defense?

After the first quarter score of 39-38, it looked like the theme of the night would be all offense. This isn’t your father’s NBA, where playoff games against the Pacers and Pistons ended with a 69-67 score. There was plenty of tough shot-making but less defense. A team who has been on the road for a week and on a front end of a back-to-back, did just enough on that end to get a win.

The energy level was low for the Sixers for much of the evening but still lit up the scoreboard. They were able to string some stops together with some effort in the fourth quarter with a lineup including Paul Reed, Jalen McDaniels, and Danuel House Jr. Let’s hope, they come out with better defensive intensity against the Minnesota Timberwolves, or they could end up on the wrong side of a blowout.

Jalen McDaniels Finding His Way

With PJ Tucker and Tobias Harris both out with injuries, Jalen McDaniels got the nod in the starting lineup. From the beginning, McDaniels provided a breath of fresh air for this team as it relates to effort and athleticism. He crashed the glass, ran the floor, and showed his ability to impact the game in a way this team needs. McDaniels ended up with 20 points and 8 rebounds in extended minutes. Hopefully, this performance will allow him to get more minutes playing with both Joel Embiid and James Harden.

Dynamic Duo Leading the Way

In a game where it seemed like the Sixers were sleepwalking through, including their two stars, they were able to score 147 points in regulation. Joel Embiid scored an effortless 42 points and kept Pacers’ center Myles Turner in foul trouble all night. Embiid was able to head to the free-throw line 19 times and sank all of them. He only missed 5 shots all night and pick and chose how he wanted to attack the Pacers’ defense.

James Harden ended the night with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and a whopping 20 assists. When Joel Embiid was not on the court, the Pacers trapped Harden on pick-and-rolls and shaded to his side on help defense. He took what the defense gave him, which lead to him getting 20 assists. Harden’s game has really evolved and his vision is at its peak. Watching Harden dish the rock and get guys easy buckets has been a great thing to watch all year.

AP Photo/Darron Cummings