With Malcolm Brogdon back in the lineup, the Indiana Pacers (25-15) stormed home in the fourth quarter to secure a 101-95 comeback win over the Philadelphia 76ers (25-16).
The Pacers trailed by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, turning things around to outscore the 76ers 61-46 in the second half.
With the win, the Pacers take a 2-1 season-series lead and leapfrog the 76ers into fifth-place in the Eastern Conference standings, with the 76ers sitting in sixth.
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Here are the key takeaways from today's game:
Welcome back Malcolm Brogdon
After missing the Pacers' past five games and eight of their last nine, Malcolm Brogdon announced his return in style, closing out the 76ers with a string of clutch buckets down the stretch.
"It's a lot of fun, especially in a competitive game like that, being with my guys, being able to pull out a win," Brogdon said in his post-game on-court interview with Fox Sports Indiana.
"When you're injured, you're humbled a little bit, you have a little bit more of an appreciation for the game, so it's good to be back out here."
Brogdon scored six of his fourth-quarter points in the final 3:19 of the game, tying things up at 92-92 with this triple:
MALCOLM IS 𝐂𝐋𝐔𝐓𝐂𝐇https://t.co/T6jmxAXvtp x #VotePacers pic.twitter.com/VvTqyNMdOM- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 14, 2020
He followed that up with a mid-range jumper to put the Pacers up 94-92 with 2:03 remaining, before draining 3-of-4 free throws in the final 32.3 seconds, relishing the big moments in his first game back.
"I shoot those shots every single day, I work extremely hard, I have a great coach that puts the ball in my hands, he trusts me, my teammates trust me, they get me open, my big set great screens, man it's a perfect situation," he added.
Brogdon finished with a team-high 21 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and a steal, shooting 5-of-15 from the field and 3-of-6 from three.
TJ Warren added 21 points, while Domantas Sabonis added 10 points and 16 rebounds and Myles Turner 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Sixers' offensive execution
The 76ers' fourth-quarter struggles caught them on the road, as they missed multiple opportunities to swing the game back in their favour down the stretch.
While the Pacers defence deserves plenty of credit, a lot of Philly's wounds were self-inflicted, turning the ball over seven times in the final frame, including a 24-second violation, a 5-second violation and TJ Warren blocking Tobias Harris' three-point attempt with 29.4 seconds remaining.
The 76ers rank 23rd in fourth quarter scoring at 26 points per game, with their lack of three-point shooting evident in a lean fourth quarter, going 2-of-7 from deep in the fourth and 6-of-33 for the game.
Amidst the 76ers' second-half struggles, Josh Richardson provided a bright spark after going 2-of-10 from the field and 0-of-5 from three in the first half.
Richardson scored 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough as 76ers slumped to their six-straight road loss and are now 7-of-14 away from Wells Fargo Center this season.
Philly are now 1-2 since losing Joel Embiid after he underwent surgery for a torn hand ligament. He will be re-evaluated in 1-2 weeks.
Ben Simmons goes hot and cold
In the first 24 minutes of the game, Ben Simmons was nothing short of unstoppable, finding lanes to the rim, dunking at will, feeding his teammates and generally getting anywhere he wanted.
He scored 20 points in the first half on 9-of-11 shooting, adding nine rebounds and three assists, capping off the half with this emphatic steal and slam.
GET OUT THE WAY 😱- Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 14, 2020
⭐️ @BenSimmons25 | https://t.co/AxzfVFCUek pic.twitter.com/QZn4kAwLKk
The Aussie was the catalyst as Philly took a 49-40 lead into the half, but he was unable to find that same rhythm in the second half.
He scored just four points in the third quarter on 1-of-4 shooting and was held scoreless in the fourth on 0-of-5 from the field.
He finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and three assists on the night.
🇦🇺 @BenSimmons25 filled it up in Indy, as the @sixers' fall 101-95 #PhilaUnite- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) January 14, 2020
📊: 24 PTS | 14 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL pic.twitter.com/ZFZV2lazXC
McConnell shines against former team
Former 76er TJ McConnell brought his hard hat against his former team, pulling off this wild sequence in the fourth quarter.
After burying a circus fadeaway shot falling out of bounds to give the Pacers an 81-80 lead, he raced back to get the steal and find Justin Holiday for the fast-break dunk to extend the lead.
Bucket. Steal. Dish.- NBA (@NBA) January 14, 2020
‼️ All heart, all hustle from T.J. McConnell ‼️
📱💻: https://t.co/lZZApswzuX pic.twitter.com/2tWUCzUBdc
McConnell had the home crowd hyped with his consistent hustle to help the Pacers take control early in the fourth, earning plenty of praise from Brogdon post-game.
"TJ's been doing that all season, I think he's one of the most underrated players in the league, we're lucky to have him." Brogdon said.
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