The Sixers were able to fend off a ferocious comeback by the Pacers B-squad in the fourth quarter to finish the 2012-2013 season with a 105-95 victory.
Philadelphia started the game on an 11-0 run, and led by as many as 26 points, only to see the lead cut down to as little as 7 in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Despite entering the fourth quarter with a 17 point lead, a Jeff Pendergraph lay-up with 5:37 left to play brought the Pacers within 7, igniting what was left of a sellout crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Luckily for the Sixers, that layup was followed by their own six point spurt, courtesy of a Dorrell Wright three-pointer and a Damien Wilkins and-1 layup that kept the Pacers resilient effort at bay.
Although the Sixers rested most of their typical starters after the first quarter, the Pacers team they were facing was extremely depleted as well, as they prepare to face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The only Pacer from their typical starting lineup to play tonight was Lance Stephenson, who scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting, despite a team low +/- of (-16).
Wright continued to make a case for himself in terms of returning next year, putting up a team-high 23 points on 8-15 shooting, including 4-8 from beyond the arc.
Evan Turner had a strong first half, at one point having a +/- of (+21), however faltered a bit in the second half and had some key turnovers that allowed the Pacers to crawl back into the game.
Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes started the game, but played only nine and four minutes, respectively, continuing Doug Collins’ recent trend of giving his younger players more exposure down the stretch.
In what was likely his last game as a head coach for the 76ers, and perhaps in the NBA, Doug Collins shared emotional pre-game hugs with his players and seemed more lighthearted than usual.
After the game, Collins was mum when asked about his future, simply stating, “I don’t know, I’m the coach.”
The Sixers will have their season-ending press conferences tomorrow, when the future of Doug Collins and other members of the front office are expected to be announced.
Here are tonight’s player grades, with some notes about their overall seasons:
Jrue Holiday (9 minutes, 5 points, 1 rebound, +10) Grade: A
Clearly, Jrue didn’t play past the first quarter tonight, when he was able to score five points on 2-2 shooting and somehow pull a +10. Jrue gets an A because he’s been amazing all season, and deserved the night off. Weirdly, Doug Collins said after the game that Jrue didn’t really want to play, and therefore ET played 40 minutes. Bizarre to hear from your all-star point guard, but it’s the last game of a meaningless season, and it’s an understatement to say Jrue has been great this year given the situation. Thank you, Jrue.
Evan Turner (40 minutes, 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, +11) Grade: B
Turner had an astounding first half where he found his shot rhythm, and at one point got his +/- to a remarkable (+21). Unfortunately, the erroneous, unpredictable Evan Turner was unleashed in the fourth quarter, which helped the Pacers mount their almost-comeback. Next year, we can only hope that Turner minimizes his alter-ego and shows us more of what we saw in tonight’s first half. Turner’s effort is never questionable, which is a plus, however his complaining to the refs inexcusably affects his defense at times. Either way, next year will probably determine whether Turner is going to breakout or bust, and Sixers fans can only pray that it’s not the latter.
Spencer Hawes (4 minutes, 3 points, 0 rebounds, 1 block, +9) Grade: B
Really nothing to grade here, although it’s worth nothing that Spencer’s last moment of the 2012-2013 season was him fouling a flopping Hansbrough, a play which would be reviewed as a flagrant and overturned. If there is any justice in the NBA, Hansbrough will be fined for one of the more ridiculous flops of the season season. In any sense, it seems fitting that Hawes left after such a bizarre play. Collins said after the game that his back tightened up, but I think what kept him out was more along the lines of Jrue’s “I don’t really want to play”. I don’t know if the Sixers hold onto Hawes, but unless he magically figures out how to play consistently, the Sixers will not contend starting him at the center position. A lot of the Sixers inconsistency begins and ends with 00.
Thaddeus Young (21 minutes, 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, +14) Grade: A+
A team high (+14) for Thad tonight just adds on to how tremendous he has been all season. In the face of adversity, on a team severely lacking size and rebounding ability, Thad found a way to get it done all year long. He is one of the lone bright spots on this roster, and his attitude and goal for next year of becoming a better leader make me optimistic he will only improve from here. Good hustle, Thad. Always.
Damien Wilkins (36 minutes, 15 points, 2 assists, +3) Grade: B+
Wilkins has been great, considering the fact that nobody expected him to make a sliver of a difference on this team when he was acquired. He had a big and-1 play today, and has been a much-needed veteran presence on a very broken offense. Despite all that, Damien Wilkins, at his age, will never be a viable starter on a team that is serious about winning. I wouldn’t mind to see him return as a reserve, however, as this team certainly needs some leadership.
Arnett Moultrie (29 minutes, 14 points, 12 rebounds, -1) Grade: B+
Moultrie recorded his first career double-double tonight, which is always a good sign. The thing that scares me the most about the development of Moultrie is that recently, in the past month or so, he has become increasingly reliant on the long two-point shot. The absolute last thing the Sixers need is another big man to fall in love with these shots. For the sake of the often-abandoned paint on offense, let’s hope this is not the beginning of a trend. Either way, we saw some good things from Moultrie, and he has likely earned some type of role on this team moving forward.
Dorrell Wright (36 minutes, 23 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, +7) Grade: A+
Dorrell Wright is by and far the only acquisition the Sixers obtained this season that turned out positively. And it certainly did not happen that way early, but over the last month or so Wright has fit perfectly into the role he was brought here for. Tonight was just more of the same. Wright is the one free agent the Sixers absolutely need to re-sign for next year. He has flourished in his role, which is more than can be said for most of his fellow players coming off the bench.
Lavoy Allen (32 minutes, 11 points, 11 rebounds, +4) Grade: B
Lavoy Allen played well, however overall, he’s had a disappointing season. With high hopes following last year, the Sixers now cannot be so sure that he was the choice over rookie-of-the-year candidate Nik Vucevic. Hopefully, a better role will be found for Lavoy next season to improve his performance from this season, when he lost minutes to Moultrie for most of the latter half of the season.
Justin Holiday (27 minutes, 8 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, -1) Grade: B+
Although Justin did not stun anybody with today’s play, he did have a monster block on Tyler Hansbrough that led to a Dorrell Wright dunk on the other end. His play over the past couple of weeks has greatly improved the chances that the Holiday brothers take the floor together as Sixers next season, and that is one of the very few positive story lines the Sixers have endured this season. Good work, Justin.
Nick Young (6 minutes, 0 points, -6) Grade: F
Although at times Swaggy P was one of the most entertaining aspects of the Sixers, that notion has completely crashed and burned over the past month. The role that Young held before he was hurt has been stolen by Dorrell Wright, who has pretty much had the opposite month of the lowly Swaggy P. Although his fun nature was entertaining, it is all but certain that Swaggy has no room on this team next season with Wright’s emergence. It’s been real, Swaggy.
The Sixers season may have ended tonight, but The Sixer Sense is nowhere near finished. This offseason is sure to contain plenty of dynamic moves by the front office, and we will be on top of that. Make sure to stay tuned.