Swarming Pacers too much for Sixers to hold off

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76ers forward Thaddeus Young is defended by Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS - In the minutes after Saturday night's 99-86 loss to the Indiana Pacers, 76ers coach Doug Collins dropped a statistic that landed with the weight of a bowling ball.

No one on the Sixers' roster - not one player - has a winning record as a basketball professional. In the locker room after his team was run over by the Pacers - almost literally - Collins said he informed his team of that exact fact.

"We have to break a lot of losing habits," Collins said. "And that's my job, to try to get that done."

The Sixers, despite leading by 13 in the first half, dropped to 0-3; the Pacers, led by Danny Granger's 22 points, improved to 2-1.

So much of Saturday night's loss was indicative of the larger problems with this team: going scoreless for long stretches, getting overwhelmed near the rim, and losing the composure to keep the game competitive.

In the third quarter, Indiana outscored the Sixers, 27-15, and blew open what had been a tie game.

While the Sixers were over-dribbling and attacking one-on-one, the Pacers were streaming to the rim for a succession of high-flying jams that made the entertainment during time-outs, which included trampolines, look like child's play.

After each transition dunk, the dunker then urged the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd to rise.

And the crowd responded.

It wasn't difficult to conclude, early in the third quarter and with the energy so distinctly against the Sixers, that this game would be a replay of many previously seen.

"It's like the same old movie," Collins said. "Bad stretches."

From the start of the second half until 3 minutes, 56 seconds left in the third quarter, the Sixers scored 5 points and committed 8 turnovers.

Game over.

"In this league, you have to have a solid unit who can complement each other in order to win," said swingman Andre Iguodala, who scored 12 points. "And right now, we're not on the same page. We're playing a little selfish . . . on the court we're a little too selfish instead of looking out for one another to play better basketball as a unit."

Instead of taking a deep breath and executing an offensive set, each individual player appeared determined to single-handedly return the team to offensive glory. By game's end, there was frustration when multiple missed block-outs allowed Indiana to further drain the clock, and there were looks of bewilderment when ambitious drives to the hoop resulted in offensive fouls.

"It's one thing playing passionately and it's another playing emotionally," Collins said. "I thought we started playing emotionally. You can't play basketball emotionally."

In the first half, combo guard Lou Williams scored 18 points on 7 for 7 shooting. In the second half, Williams scored 0 points on 0 for 1 shooting, committing 4 turnovers in just over 7 minutes of action. Perhaps no player better represented the team's current feast-or-famine personality.

"We're here to win," said point guard Jrue Holiday, who finished with 12 points. "Every person in here, we want to win. Losing isn't fun to us. We talk about it all the time, how we're going to come here and change it around. It's just some times we have stretches where we don't score, or they catch fire and we don't come back with something - and that's what we need to change."

 


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