High scoring, Joel Embiid's dominance and Will Ferrell courtside — a game that had everything: Running Thoughts
In a game that featured 24 ties and 32 lead changes, the 76ers edged the Pacers by four in the highest scoring game by the Pacers and their opponent all season.
Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 147-143 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Monday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
The Pacers are back home for their next two games after a four-game, 10-day road trip. Players say the first game back from a road trip is the toughest, even more so being on a back-to-back. They played last night in Chicago and won by three.
They’re without Aaron Nesmith (left hip soreness) for the second game in a row. Tyrese Haliburton is good despite Patrick Beverley not giving him space to land and tweaking his right ankle. Myles Turner is a game-time decision, but he was out for warmups and will play.
Without Nesmith, Jordan Nwora will start his second straight game. And Oshae Brissett will get minutes off the bench.
The 76ers, visiting for the first of two meetings within 13 days, are without Tobias Harris and P.J. Tucker.
Actor Will Ferrell is in the building, part of his cross-country journey to film a documentary. He’ll sit on the baseline next to the Pacers’ bench. Rapper 50 Cent will also be courtside.
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle pregame on trying to slow Joel Embiid: “Well, Will Ferrell is gonna be here tonight and he’s gonna be sitting near our bench. I’m hoping he can help us with Joel Embiid. That’s the best answer I have for you.
“Embiid’s a great player. He’s probably the greatest physical force that we have in the game today. That, combined with his skill level, he’s a big factor defensively as well. Just a real big set of challenges. He’s seen every coverage. You talk about the ultimate weapon — the force at the rim, the midrange, the long-range, the driving, the passing, the rebounding. He’s a great player. He’ll be MVP one of these years. Maybe this year.”
Carlisle said he appeared in “Amazing Grace and Chuck” — a movie from 1987.
76ers coach Doc Rivers on the Pacers: “They’re tough. They play hard. They’re young, they run the floor, they space the floor, they play quick-decision basketball, they have shooters and they have a 5 that can spread the floor so that makes them even harder to guard. It’s not an easy team to play.”
This was a star-studded affair: Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and coach Reggie Wayne were in row 1. Both Herb and Steve Simon were on hand, Governor Holcomb, a prominent player agent and more.
Rev It Up!: No surprise, it was Will Ferrell. And 50 Cent gave him a push in the IndyCar.
David Benner’s seat was left open tonight. The longtime Pacers director of PR passed away last Wednesday. There was a moment of silence pregame and he was honored with at his former courtside seat. Bravo, Pacers.
11-8: The first few minutes are played at the Pacers’ pace. And so eight of their first 11 points were scored in transition.
9:17: Joel Embiid goes right at Myles Turner in the paint and was quick to draw two fouls on him. Jalen Smith, who didn’t play in the last two games, is getting the backup center minutes.
4:43: Good start for Nwora. He’s made four of his first five shots and is in double figures for the fifth straight games. Pacers will have a much better understanding of his game and how he can contribute after the final 20 games.
3:48: Fitting how the Pacemates’ first routine of the night was a mix of 50 Cent songs while he sat courtside. Afterward, a recording of players welcoming him to the game played on the giant video board. Pacers don’t get celebrities like Will Ferrall and 50 Cent to games often, so they’re going above and beyond.
Haliburton sank one from half-court and then slapped hands with one of his brothers courtside. But he didn’t get it off in time. The Pacers, who have not been a good first quarter team, have a 39-38 lead. And didn’t turn it over. But Tyrese Maxey already has 14 points and Embiid, who looks like a bull in a china closest against the Pacers, scored nine.
11:05: With Turner already having two fouls, the Pacers will play at least three centers tonight. Isaiah Jackson is in to replace Smith.
6:26: Turner returns for his second stint. Game is tied at 57. This has been a close game, back and forth.
Productive first stint for T.J. McConnell against his former team: 3 for 3 with eight points, two rebounds and three assists.
TJM on the second unit: “I feel like we’re playing the right way — making the extra pass, getting downhill and getting in the paint, creating a problem and finding the open guy.”
If you like offense, this is the game for you. But there hasn't been much defense or many stops. Both teams are shooting about 62%.
2:20: Take foul on the Pacers leads to a technical foul shot and Haliburton — not Buddy Hield, like usual — takes it. Technically, Haliburton's FT% is slightly: 86% to 85.6%.
First to 150 wins? This one is on pace for over 300 points scored.
What was it like for the players? “It’s fun,” Haliburton said. “How can you not love that style of basketball? I think there’s just a lot of elite basketball players on the floor making big-time plays, making shots. The game just came down to who would get enough stops in a row. Usually they people say the first one to get three stops in a row — but that game, it’s the first one to get two stops in a row.”
Haliburton does it again, this time getting the shot off in time from 32 feet to give the Pacers a 79-78 edge at the break. The 79 points make it the Pacers’ highest first-half output this season. But the best thing going their way in this offensive showcase is the Pacers committing only two turnovers. Haliburton is putting on a show with 22 points and nine assists already. With a right ankle that isn’t 100%.