Sixers lose lead and fall to Pacers

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Philadelphia 76ers guard Lou Williams, left, drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Pacers were streaming toward the rim in the second half Saturday night, throwing down jams that were nearly as high-flyng as the halftime entertainment.

First it was slight-of-frame point guard Darren Collison, then powerful forward Josh McRoberts.

Each play ended with an explosion from the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd, and each play further buried the 76ers.

Despite holding a double-digit lead in the second quarter, the Sixers lost to Indiana, 99-86, Saturday night and dropped to 0-3. The Pacers, led by Danny Granger with 22 points, improved to 2-1.

The Sixers scored only 15 points in the third quarter, trailed by 78-66 entering the fourth, and were down by 16 at one point in the fourth.

Sixers guard Lou Williams scored a team-high 18 points, all in the first half. Elton Brand (12 points), Andre Iguodala (12 points), and Jrue Holiday (12 points) were the only starters scoring in double figures.

The team had ended the first quarter on a 7-1 run, with all those points coming from Williams.

With 2 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the quarter, Williams hit a mid-range jumper, picked up a quick basket in transition, then nailed a three-pointer from just off the top of the key to give the Sixers a 26-21 lead.

On the final play of the quarter, with a chance to boost that lead, Sixers forward Andres Nocioni missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

As has been the case this season, the Sixers' second unit dominated Indiana's second unit, building a lead of 31-21 with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter and 36-26 with 8:27 to play, forcing Pacers coach Jim O'Brien to reinsert starting point guard Darren Collison and Granger.

Williams' scoring explosion, 14 points in eight minutes by the midpoint of the second quarter, came during a Pacers scoring drought. In a stretch that began with 2:23 left in the first quarter until 10:09 remained in the second, Indiana missed four field goals and three free throws, and committed three turnovers.

As the quarter wore on and the Sixers returned to a lineup of Williams, Holiday, Brand, Iguodala, and Spencer Hawes, Williams continued to provide points even as the Pacers closed the gap.

When Williams went to the bench with 4:10 left in the half, he had scored 18 points in 12:53 of playing time.

In the final few minutes of the second quarter, Indiana played off its star, Granger, who had gone scoreless in the first quarter and then scored 12 points in the second. Reserve big man Tyler Hansbrough supplied the energy, guard Mike Dunleavy the creative cuts to the hoop, and center Roy Hibbert the blocking presence.

On a little turnaround in the lane by guard T.J. Ford with 0.3 seconds left in the half, the Pacers tied the score, 51-51.

 


Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.