Wednesday, April 17, 8:00 PM (EST) at Banker's Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
THE FACTS: The victor goes home, having salvaged a respectable finish from an otherwise miserable season. The loser moves on, hoping to find what it has lost in a late-season slump. Philadelphia closed its season with a 105-95 victory over a depleted Indiana team resting four starters Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The 76ers finish 34-48 overall but went 11-9 in their final 20 games, something to take into an offseason that could include a search for a new head coach if reports of Doug Collins' departure prove to be true. Indiana finishes 49-32 and faces Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs but the Pacers must find a way to reverse the negative momentum built in losing five of their final six games.
Gerald Green made a strong case for inclusion in the playoff rotation by scoring a career-high 34 points for Indiana, matching the second-highest total for any Pacers player this season. Dorell Wright led Philadelphia with 23.
QUOTABLE: "I always say this before the last game: get your hands together, look around this room and realize this is the NBA and this room will change, to look each other in the eye and appreciate what each of you have done for the other and how hard we worked and realize you always will be teammates."
THE STAT: Indiana trailed by at least 20 points in each of its final six games, including deficits as large as 26 against the Sixers.
TURNING POINT: Philadelphia took control immediately with an 11-0 start, and pushed the lead to 66-40 early in the third period before Green caught fire and rallied Indiana. He scored 17 in the third period as the deficit was trimmed to 85-68 and hit a 3-pointer in a 9-0 run that pulled the Pacers to 90-83. That was as close as they'd get until the closing seconds, however, as a 3-pointer by Wright and a three-point play byDamien Wilkins quickly pushed the advantage to 13.
QUOTABLE II: "I don't know but as of now I'm the coach."
-- Collins on his future.
HOT: Green shot 14-for-23 overall, 6-for-12 from the 3-point line, adding six rebounds and two steals. Jeff Pendergraph had 12 points and six rebounds off the bench and Ben Hansbrough 11 points in 18 minutes, nine in the fourth quarter. Wright shot 8-for-15 for the 76ers while Arnett Moultrie had 14 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 7-for-11. Wilkins scored 15 on 6-for-11 shooting.
NOT: Indiana shot 17-for-27 from the free throw line (.630) and 6-for-26 from the 3-point line (.231). Orlando Johnson missed all five of his 3-pointers, and Hansbrough was 0-for-3.
QUOTABLE III: "I think this team has a great deal of potential to make a lot of noise in the playoffs, and it starts with the Atlanta Hawks."
-- Indiana coach Frank Vogel.
NOTABLE: In winning 11 of their final 20 games, the Sixers posted five wins over playoff teams (Pacers twice, Nets, Hawks and Bucks). ... Indiana allowed more than 100 points five times in the last eight games after having done so just once in the previous 22. ... Indiana has lost its last 11 games in Atlanta but will have homecourt advantage in the first-round series. ...The Pacers have lost five of its last six in front of home sellout crowds, finishing 5-5 on the season. ... Indiana rested starters Paul George (abdomen), George Hill(hip/groin), David West (lower back) and Roy Hibbert. The only regular in the lineup was Lance Stephenson. ... D.J. Augustin, Green, Tyler Hansbrough and Ian Mahinmi joined Stephenson in Indiana's starting lineup. ... Hansbrough averaged 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in eight starts this season. ... In three years with the 76ers, Collins has a 110-120 record. In 11 years as an NBA head coach including stints in Chicago, Detroit and Washington, Collins is 442-407.