The Indiana Pacers, the hottest team in the NBA this month, continued their winning ways Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, getting late-game separation against the 76ers to score a 102-97 victory in the Sixers’ final home game of the regular season.
The Sixers (31-30) began the day tied with New York, which was playing Boston later Tuesday. The teams had the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference in the race for the final two playoffs seeds, but the Knicks held the tiebreaker advantage by virtue of a 2-1 record against the Sixers in head-to-head meetings.
The loss left the Sixers 11/2 games ahead of Milwaukee in the race for the eighth seed. The Sixers finished the regular season with a 19-14 record at home. They are just one game above .500 for the first time since they began the season 3-2.
The loss was the Sixers’ third in a row and dropped their record in their in their last 32 games to 11-21.
Down by 79-77 after the Sixers’ Andre Iguodala (23 points) hit the first of two free throws with 7 minutes, 52 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, the Pacers used a 9-3 run for an 88-81 lead they did not relinquish.
The Sixers did get to within 98-95 on Thaddeus Young’s three-pointer with 47 seconds to play. They had a chance to tie it shortly thereafter, but Lou Williams missed a three. Indiana’s George Hill sealed the Pacers’ victory, their 10th win in their last 11 games, with a pair of free throws.
Young finished with 19 points for the Sixers, who will face the Bucks next week in the next-to-last game of the regular season. That game is part of the team’s final five games of the regular season, beginning with Cleveland on Wednesday night.