PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In a playoff-like atmosphere with their leading scorer struggling, the Indiana Pacers showed they still have what it takes to win on the road.
Myles Turner scored 25 points, including two clutch free throws with 21.5 seconds remaining, and Indiana beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-98 on Tuesday night in a possible Eastern Conference playoff preview.
Thaddeus Young added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the surprising Pacers (40-28), who overcame an off shooting night by Victor Oladipo to win their third straight and improve to a season-high 12 games over .500. They were coming off a 99-97 victory at Boston on Sunday night.
”Great resiliency, great job of being road tough,” Oladipo said.
Joel Embiid had 29 points and 12 rebounds and Ben Simmons finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the 76ers (36-30), who had won 13 straight home games.
”It’s frustrating but we will learn from it and get better,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said.
The Pacers and upstart 76ers could meet in the first round of the playoffs – and the game had some intensity reminiscent of a postseason matchup. Indiana began the day in third in the East, two games in front of sixth-place Philadelphia. The 76ers are aiming for their first postseason berth since 2012.
”We knew it was going to be physical,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. ”It’s that time of the season. Everybody was ready.”
The Pacers looked poised to close it out when they had the ball with a three-point lead in the final seconds, but Oladipo committed an offensive foul in Indiana’s backcourt. Embiid then had a tying 3-point attempt go off the front of the rim.
The Pacers led throughout the second half, but they had a hard time separating themselves from Philadelphia. A key sequence came with just under four minutes left when Trevor Booker blocked Embiid’s short jumper and Oladipo drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 97-89 with 3:18 remaining.
Oladipo, who was averaging 23.8 points coming into the night, finished with 11 points on 4-for-21 shooting, including 1 for 4 from 3-point range.
The Pacers lost Domantas Sabonis with just under two minutes left in the third quarter when Embiid tumbled into him while trying to grab a rebound. Sabonis limped to the locker room with an ankle injury. McMillan said after the game that X-rays were negative.
The game got heated at several moments, including right after Sabonis went down.
Following a Pacers timeout, Embiid appeared to have words with McMillan.
Embiid then picked up a technical with 44.2 seconds left in the period for shoving Lance Stephenson in the back after Stephenson converted a layup.
Earlier, Stephenson took exception to a hard foul by Simmons with 7:53 left in the second quarter, angrily getting up and pointing at Simmons.
Tight end Brent Celek was seated courtside next to former Philadelphia Eagles teammates Brian Westbrook and Freddie Mitchell. Celek was released by the Eagles on Tuesday after 11 seasons with the organization. He received a loud ovation when he was introduced on the videoboard.
Pacers: Booker, who averaged 4.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 33 games with the 76ers this season before signing with Indiana on March 3, had five points and six rebounds in 17 minutes. … Indiana has won 14 of its last 17 contests in Philadelphia.
76ers: Brown said before the game that no decision has been made on whether Markelle Fultz would play the remainder of the season. The top pick in the 2017 draft has played just four games due to right shoulder rehabilitation. … Philadelphia (75) had 20 fewer shot attempts than the Pacers (95). …The 76ers also had 21 turnovers to Indiana’s nine.
Pacers: Host Toronto on Thursday night.
76ers: At Knicks on Thursday night.