Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shorthanded Sixers down playoff-hopeful Pacers

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Andre Miller scored 19 points and dished out 11 assists as Philadelphia edged Indiana, 90-86, at the Wachovia Center.

Louis Williams added a career-high 18 points and five assists for the Sixers, who have won three of their past four games. Joe Smith chipped in with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Samuel Dalembert had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

"He (Louis Williams) took a major step tonight, playing against a team that is still trying to get into the playoffs," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "I thought that he was the biggest difference in the game."

Jermaine O'Neal tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who fell two games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with just five games to play. Jeff Foster added 15 points off the bench and Troy Murphy netted 11.

"We couldn't hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle, that's the story of the game," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We had a season-low turnover total, which kept us in it and we had a lot of good looks. They made their share of plays so you have to give them credit but our inability to make shots was our undoing in this game."

Philadelphia won despite playing without their two leading scorers, guard Andre Iguodala and forward Kyle Korver, and rookie swingman Rodney Carney. Iguodala sat with a strained lower back while Korver was sidelined with a sprained wrist and Carney sat with a sprained knee.

The Sixers led the game wire-to-wire through three quarters and entered the final frame with an 11-point edge. But, the Pacers opened the quarter with a 17-5 run to take their first lead.
O'Neal capped the run with a mid-range fadeaway jumper off the blocks to make it 75-74 with 4:44 on the clock.

Things remained tight as the game headed toward the stretch. Shawne Williams' lay-in gave Indiana an 82-81 edge with 2:39 remaining.

But, after Murphy came up empty on a three, the Sixers found a leaking Smith for a slam with 2:05 on the clock to put the Sixers back on top, 83-82.

Darrell Armstrong had a wide open look at a three but came up short and Miller came down and stuck a jumper to extend the Sixers lead to three, 85-82, with 1:25 left.

The Pacers had one last chance to deadlock things but Murphy missed a good look at three and the Sixers made enough free throws in the waning seconds to win it.

"When it was time to attack the basket the guys got to the basket, got to the free throw line and knew when it was time to pull the ball out and try to run a play," said Miller. "The main thing is we played through the offensive rebounds that we gave up and we came out with the win."

The Sixers raced out to a 26-17 lead after the opening 12 minutes but Indiana bounced back a bit in the second and drew within six, 45-39, at intermission.

Philadelphia continued to play frontrunner through three quarters, 69-58.

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