INDIANAPOLIS - The 76ers could not overcome a team with a win-one-for-the-Gipper mentality that received a lights-out game from a reserve player.
They also could not overcome the many uncontested shots by the Indiana Pacers in a 102-85 loss tonight at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Sixers (10-15) saw the Pacers hoist 16 more field-goal attempts in winning their third in a row and improving to 14-12.
The Pacers hit 43 of 94 field-goal attempts, including 9 of 21 from beyond the arc. Many of the shots were uncontested jumpers or easy drives to the basket.
"It's good basketball Indiana played, as far as rotating the ball," said Andre Iguodala, who scored 16 points but shot just 3 for 12 from the field. "A lot of different guys got shots [for the Pacers], and nobody was trying to be the leading scorer. A good defense will stop that, but we didn't have a good defense."
Indiana didn't even miss point guard Jamaal Tinsley, who sat out with a bruised left thigh.
That gave more minutes off the bench to Marquis Daniels, who personally outscored the Sixers reserves, 26-16.
Daniels said the Pacers had plenty of incentive: It was coach Jim O'Brien's first game against the team that fired him after the 2004-2005 season.
"We mentioned it among the players that we wanted to play hard for him and wanted to get a win for him because that is a team that he coached," said Daniels, who shot 11 for 17 from the field, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. "It's just like a player: When you get traded from a team, you want to beat that team."
O'Brien never mentioned the revenge factor to the players, Daniels said.
Speaking of revenge, one person who was seeking it was Samuel Dalembert, who openly criticized O'Brien earlier in the week for Dalembert's lack of playing time under the former Sixers coach.
Dalembert finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots, but could not be consoled afterward.
"I am not really happy with myself the way I played," the Sixers center said. "I think I could have done a better job in the first half."
That was a pretty good analysis. In the first half, when the Pacers built a 50-47 lead, Dalembert had six points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Jermaine O'Neal, scored 15 of his 19 points in the first two quarters.
Dalembert picked it up in the second half, but his teammates did not follow his lead.
Indiana went on a 15-5 run to end the third quarter, expanding its advantage to 81-67 entering the fourth. The Sixers never seriously threatened after that, leaving Dalembert downcast.
"It was kind of a little personal, but they had a guy light it up off the bench and we didn't respond," Dalembert said.
Indiana entered the game having given up as much as it received. The Pacers were averaging and allowing 104.5 points per game.
Against that defense, the Sixers shot just 27 for 78 (34.6 percent) from the field. The bench was a collective 4 for 22, with Kyle Korver 0 for 5 and Jason Smith 2 for 10.
"It was a really solid defensive effort by our team," O'Brien said. "To hold a team that's on a hot streak to 35 percent shooting is good."
"It was a tale of our offense going flat," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "The bench didn't score for us."
The defense can't be let off the hook, either. All in all, it wasn't a memorable performance on any front, unless you were a former Sixers coach.