The Sixers fell to the Pacers in Indiana tonight, 107-94, in what was surely not the evening’s most enthralling game of basketball. Dario Saric struggled from the start, five Pacers scored in double-figures and the two teams shot barely a combined 40 percent.
Let’s get to some notes:
- Rough night for The Homie. It’s only fitting, as I touted his improvement in the game preview, for him to come out sleep-walking. Nothing abnormal to see over the course of a long season for a rookie, even an experienced one, and he’s certainly earned himself some slack this month, but this was a bad one. Saric finished 3-of-14 from the field, including 1-of-6 from deep, for nine points, nine boards and four turnovers in 23 minutes. He missed bunnies that he’s made in his sleep the past two months, got punished off-the-dribble and struggled to find his rhythm all night. Not a banner night for him.
- So, Shawn Long can play, huh? He’s certainly always had the talent. He averaged a double-double all four seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, capped off by a 19-12 senior season effort on over 52 percent shooting. He probably even had top-60 level talent, he just never showcased any fire or intangibles, especially defensively, that could set him apart from the crop once his talent wasn’t worlds better than the unimpressive Sun Belt competition. Well, he’s surely got his warts, and those concerns aren’t totally quelled, but he’s proving to be talented enough to play at this level regardless. The heavy-footed stretch rebounding big has the stroke and the fundamentals and physicality on the block necessary to stay afloat at the very least. There’s probably not going to be room for him to thrive in Philly moving forward, and he’s not exactly an exciting upside play, but at some point, you can just play (and on a desirable contract, of course). Tonight’s 15-10 effort against one of the league’s more bruising front lines is just another sign that he can.
- Gerald Henderson had another brutal performance. The Episcopal grad has been rough since the turn of February really, shooting 37 percent from the field since the Feb. 1 and looking a little less consistently engaged defensively as the season’s worn on. He’s been dealing with nagging hip soreness on and off for a long time now, so it’s possible he’s not playing at full strength. He was a -15 in 17 minutes with a 2-for-6 showing from the field tonight.
- Richaun Holmes managed to at least hold up tonight. I noted the toughness of the matchup for him with a physical pick-and-roll presence in Turner, but both the Bowling Green and Texas products had fairly quiet nights. With the help of Long, the Sixers came away even in the rebounding battle tonight, and Turner came away with a mere 11 points to go with his 13 boards (far less ideal). Holmes had seven with 10 boards. Nothing special from him, but he was up to the challenge, and as we’ve come to expect from him, came out of the gates fiery: