Michael Carter-Williams posted 29 points and seven steals, but it wasn't enough as the Sixers lost to the Pacers on Saturday night, 106-98. (USA Today Images)
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Sixers were minus two starters and their top reserve Saturday night when they faced the 11-1 Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Spencer Hawes did not dress because of a sore left knee, Thaddeus Young remains away from the team for personal reasons and Tony Wroten was sidelined with back spasms (see story).
Without that trio, Brett Brown’s young group was still extremely competitive against the Pacers. Saturday's game consisted of 17 lead changes and 12 ties before Indiana prevailed, 106-98.
The game was tied at 86 with 6:18 to go before the Sixers proceeded to miss nine consecutive field-goal attempts.
The Sixers' record drops to 6-9 while the Pacers sit atop the Eastern Conference at 12-1.
The Sixers opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to cut into Indiana’s 11-point lead. The Sixers had made a game of it again and actually took a couple leads in the final quarter.
The killer basket came from Paul George midway through the quarter, a corner three-pointer that gave the Pacers an 89-86 lead. It began a 12-2 Indiana run that stretched the Pacers' advantage to 98-88.
Follow the leader
Roy Hibbert entered the game leading the league in blocked shots at 4.2 per game. He added six against the Sixers. He also led the Pacers in scoring with 27 points to go along with 13 rebounds.
George, the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer, had 19 points on 6 of 13 shooting.
Evan Turner and Michael Carter-Williams carried the scoring load for the shorthanded Sixers. MCW had a career-high 29 points to go with six rebounds, seven steals and three assists.
Turner had 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Sixers were relentless on the backboard. They had 23 offensive rebounds to Indiana’s eight and they scored 31 second-chance points to the Pacers' 13.
Unfortunately, they shot just 34 percent from the floor, including 4 for 25 (16 percent) from behind the arc.
Take a bow
Daniel Orton has started the last three games with Young unavailable. Against the Pacers, Orton registered his first NBA double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sixers will not play again until Wednesday in Orlando. The Magic are 4-8 and led in scoring by Aaron Afflalo, who averages 20-plus points per game.
Former Sixer Nikola Vucevic is one of eleven players in the league averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. The big man came into Saturday averaging 14.9 points per game and 10.9 rebounds.
And Chester, Pa., native Jameer Nelson, now in his 10th NBA season, entered Saturday averaging 12.5 points and 5.7 assists in 31 minutes a night.