As they did last year, Philadelphia had a solid chance to start the season 1-0 as they went to take on a depleted Indiana Pacers team. Despite missing four of last season's starters due to injury, they still managed to find enough to hold off the Sixers.
The Sixers got out to a hot start in the first quarter, in parts thanks to some very active play on defense. Tony Wroten led the team in scoring the first quarter, getting to the rim with relative ease on the break and in half court sets. Rookie Nerlens Noel got his first regular season basket in the first, as he put the ball on the ground and finished with a left hand around Indiana's Luis Scola. Philadelphia's bigs got into early foul trouble, and their second unit was simply outmatched at the end of the first. JaKarr Sampson struggled to score, and picked up some rather poor fouls; he sat for the entirety of the second half.
The second quarter was all Brandon Davies, who was on the court with Malcolm Thomas while Noel and Sims sat. He showed some pretty refined post moves, at one point knocking down a hook shot over the outstretched arm of Hibbert. The Georgetown product looked like his old self Wednesday, finishing around the rim and getting to the line. The combination of Wroten and Davies offensively kept the Sixers in business, and they found themselves up 51-48 at halftime. Wroten and Hibbert led each team in scoring with 13 points.
Philadelphia's offense showed some stagnancy coming out of the dressing room, and the Pacers capitalized. Starting point guard Donald Sloan and shooting guard C.J. Miles led the charge for Indiana, knocking down an array of outside shots to open the lead up to 10. Sixers backup point guard Alexey Shved brought Philadelphia within five at the end of the third, scoring 11 points (including 3 three-pointers) in the final 2:45 of the game.
Once again, Indiana's bench led by Rodney Stuckey proved to be too much for Philadelphia's backups, and the Pacers were able to stretch the lead to 13 early in the 4th quarter. Tony Wroten led the charge back for Philadelphia, which included a mean tomahawk over Ian Mahinmi. But a late three from C.J. Miles and a three-point play from Hibbert put the game out of reach, and the Sixers fell in their season opener 103-91.
Tony Wroten shined for the Sixers on Wednesday, scoring 22 points (9-21 FG), and chipped in eight rebounds and seven assists. Shved was a delightful surprise, putting up 18 points (5-11 FG, 3-6 3PT), and five assists. He looked really comfortable operating out of the pick and roll, and showed promise as a stand still three point shooter.
For the rookies making their debut, Nerlens Noel stuffed his stat line with six points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. He looked strong as a help defender, but seemed to really struggle in one-on-one situations. Quicker guards had a pretty easy time getting around him, and had an array of shots made over him. K.J. McDaniels looked very uncomfortable, and finished with just 2 points on 1-5 shooting.
Philadelphia has the chance to turn things around Friday as they travel to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks.