The Indiana Pacers were playing without Danny Granger and George Hill, but it was the Philadelphia 76ers reserves and the familiar play of Andre Iguodala that shined bright in the 96-86 win at home in Philadelphia Monday night.
The usual rotational suspects, Thaddeus Young (12 points, eight rebounds) and Louis Williams (13 points, six assists), did their damage off the bench, but they got help from rookie Nikola Vucevic up front. Vucevic scored a season-high 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in only 17 minutes in relief of Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes, who both battled foul trouble.
Vucevic joined Young and Williams in creating an early spark off the bench against the depleted Pacer squad playing without their top scorer (Granger) and backcourt playmaker (Hill). In their minutes at the end of the first quarter and into the second, the Sixers second team erased an early Pacer lead and established control of the scoreboard on the backs of a 21-5 run. For the night, the Sixers bench outscored the Pacers bench 41-19.
Indiana was frisky and brought the game back to deficits of two and one points at a couple of points in the first half, but 76ers coach Doug Collins went back to his productive triumvirate and pushed the advantage back out to five to close out the half strong. When they returned in the second half, Young and Vucevic helped push the lead out to double digits and further the buffer zone for the home team.
The Pacers made mini-runs to get back into the game, taking advantage of Philadelphia's 18 turnovers, largely due to the generosity of Jrue Holiday (two assists, seven turnovers). Roy Hibbert scored 19 points and had back-to-back possessions that led to his five fourth-quarter points and brought the lead back down to six with two minutes to play. But Hibbert missed his fourth free throw of the game and then Young cashed in a hook shot which stretched the lead back out to eight. Andre Iguodala then took advantage of an Indiana turnover and hit a game-sealing jumper.
Iguodala had his usual quietly productive night on both ends of the floor with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists against a single turnover in over 39 minutes. It was a very solid night, especially when mixing in the off-night his cover, Paul George (4-16 from the field), had trying to score. Sixers fans may yawn, but Andre was the constant beat that pounded the game home, at home, and put the Pacers away.
Tom Lewis at Indy Cornrows also doffed the cap in the Sixers bench's direction:
Philly didn't play their best game, turning the ball over 18 times and missing some key free throws as well, but they showed the problems they will pose going forward. It was actually better when their starters were on the floor because Louis Williams can knock down shots and Thaddeus Young made a big impact with his length and ability to score in a variety of ways. They even squeezed out 11 points and 8 rebounds from rookie big man Nikola Vucevic.
At Liberty Ballers, Derek Bodner registers his votes for stars of the game:
- Thaddeus Young ignited both runs, particularly that 11-0 to end the first quarter and start the second. His energy was palpable, and that save late in the first to ignite the break key. With a 12 point (7 shots), 8 rebound, 2 assist, 2 steal, 1 block game, he'd be your player of the game, if not for...
- Andre Iguodala's 20 point, 9 rebound, 5 assist, 1 turnover stat line. And he helped hold Paul George to 13 points on 16 shots with 5 turnovers.