Tony DiLeo reminded the 76ers in their pregame meeting tonight that the Indiana Pacers--missing Danny Granger, Troy Murphy and Marquis Daniels--could still be dangerous.
As it turned out, the Pacers weren't only dangerous, they were good enough to turn back the Sixers 95-94, handing them their first loss in four games under DiLeo, who became the coach when Maurice Cheeks was fired last Saturday.The Pacers came from 15 points down in the second quarter and from five down with 2:59 remaining.
The Sixers, though, were still clinging to a 94-93 advantage on a steal and fast-break dunk by Lou Williams with 17.2 seconds to go, but T.J. Ford--playing through a sore left groin--dropped in the decisive 18-foot pullup jumper over Andre Iguodala with 3.9 seconds left.
The Sixers came out of a 20-second timeout with a play designed to get Iguodala to the rim. The play worked nicely, but Iguodala's twisting left-handed layup fell off the rim with four-10ths of a second on the clock.
''We got the shot we wanted,'' DiLeo said. ''We executed the last play, got a pretty good look. It just didn't fall for Andre.''
With Granger, Murphy and Daniels hospitalized in Indianapolis with flu-like symptoms, the Pacers got 25 points from Ford and 12 each from Jarrett Jack and Travis Diener. Iguodala had 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists for the Sixers, while Williams contributed 17 points and Andre Miller posted a triple-double of 14 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Samuel Dalembert had one of his better games, producing 11 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks.
''I talked to the team (before the game) and told them you're never out of a game (with the Pacers) and you never have a safe lead,'' DiLeo said.
The Sixers came out of it a man short when Willie Green aggravated a sore left ankle in the second quarter, prompting DiLeo to start Kareem Rush in the second half. Green said he initially hurt the ankle against Milwaukee Wednesday night, and that he expected to be able to practice Monday.
''This was a win we should have had,'' Iguodala said. ''It's one of our tougher losses. We've got to get them. When you lose them, you wish you could have them back when April comes.''
One other little detail:
The victory gave Pacers coach Jim O'Brien a 4-1 record against the Sixers, the team he coached for one season in 2004-05.