Sixers-Pacers observations: Poor bench play and costly turnovers (again)

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Sixers' Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Robert Covington during a late timeout in the loss to the Pacers.

Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 101-98 loss to the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Five observations

— I wrote Monday that the Sixers remind me of that bully we all knew in elementary school. Last night’s game confirmed it. Two night removed from beating up the struggling Brooklyn Nets, they couldn’t get over the hump against the Eastern Conference’s third-place Pacers. It’s obvious right now that the Sixers pick on the league’s weak teams and have a tough time beating the playoff-caliber squads.

  The Sixers bench, once again, struggled against a quality opponent. The Sixers reserves were outscored, 30-15. Sharp-shooting sixth man Marco Belinelli scored six points on 2-for-7 shooting. He missed four of his five three-pointers. T.J. McConnell had four points and just one assist while grading out at a game-worst minus-14. Ersan Ilyasova had five points. Amir Johnson had zero points and didn’t attempt a shot. He also had more fouls (three) than rebounds (two).

—  It appears the Sixers might have to live with the turnover bug against playoff-caliber teams. One game after committed just 10 vs. the Nets, they reverted to form with 21 on Tuesday. They had 18 turnovers in Thursday’s loss at the conference’s eighth-place Miami Heat and 26 turnovers at the seventh-place Milwaukee Bucks on March 4.

— Ben Simmons had another game in which he didn’t look for his shot in the fourth quarter. The rookie-of-the-year candidate didn’t attempt a field goal in 9 minutes, 15 seconds of action in the final quarter. He did, however, lead the team with two assists and have the second-most rebounds (four) in the quarter. Simmons finished the game with his seventh triple-double: 10 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Sixers should have gotten the ball to JJ Redick after they called a timeout with 7.6 seconds left, trailing by three points. Coach Brett Brown said the team had two options — find Redick or get the ball to Joel Embiid.  Embiid ended up with the ball and missed a three-pointer with 6.1 seconds left. He finished the game 0 for 5 from that distance. However, Redick was deadly on threes, making 4 of 5.

‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards

— Best performance: Even though Embiid had a game-high 29 points, I had to give this to Thad Young. The Pacers power forward scored 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds and  two steals against his former team.

— Worst performance: This was an easy one. It goes to Victor Oladipo. The Pacers all-star shooting guard had 11 points on 4-for-21 shooting.

— Best defensive performance: Robert Covington gets this for being the primary defender on Oladipo. The Sixers small forward also blocked three shots.

— Worst statistic: This goes to the Pacers’ shooting just 20.8 percent on three-pointers.

— Best statistic: I had to give this to Redick’s shooting 80 percent on three-pointers.

— Worst of the worst: This goes to the Sixers’ 21 turnovers. They continue to find ways to commit unforced turnovers.