INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Pacers were the NBA equivalent of a 7-Eleven.
The 76ers, on the other hand, turned into accidental tourists after the first quarter, unable defensively to find their way to the perimeter.
The result: The Pacers rang up a 102-85 victory last night, riddling the Sixers with a barrage of three-point attempts and long twos, creating open space with excellent swinging of the ball and the effective post presence of Jermaine O'Neal.
The secondary result: In the Sixers' first game against Jim O'Brien since he was fired after one season (2004-05) in Philadelphia, they came up painfully short, shooting 16-for-55 (29.1 percent) after the first quarter.
This is how bad things got: The Pacers led early in the fourth quarter, 83-67, went nine possessions in succession without scoring and still led, 85-72, when forward Danny Granger dropped in a follow-up with 6 minutes, 8 seconds to go.
"That was a tale of our offense going flat and their offense started to pick up," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "What I told them was, try not to let our offense dictate our defense, but it was a case of our offense going flat. We didn't score."
That, the Pacers did, including guard Marquis Daniels, who came off the bench to lead them with 26 points on 11-for-17 shooting, including 3-for-4 beyond the arc. With starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley out with a thigh injury, Daniels asked to remain in the substitution rotation, leaving Andre Owens to start.
Led by Daniels, the Pacers' bench shot 15-for-31 and outscored the Sixers reserves, 35-16. Worse, the Sixers subs finished 4-for-22, and it was only that good because rookie Thaddeus Young was 2-for-4. Kyle Korver was 0-for-5, Jason Smith 2-for-10 and Lou Williams 0-for-3.
And the Sixers knew exactly what they were facing. The Pacers played at a fast pace, launched shots and knocked down nine of 21 triples. They relentlessly swung the ball, and when the open shot didn't immediately present itself they went inside to O'Neal, who contributed 19 points, nine rebounds and five blocks.
"[O'Brien] instills a different confidence in our team," O'Neal said. "We love to play for him."
That includes Mike Dunleavy, who had a career-high 36 points in New York Monday night and came back with 19 last night. The Sixers countered with 16 each from Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller, although Iguodala was 3-for-12 from the floor. Samuel Dalembert had 15 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks, and Reggie Evans had nine points and 16 rebounds, but they all ended up just being meaningless numbers in the box score.
The truth is, the Sixers shot a season-low 34.6 percent.
"It was a really solid defensive effort by our team," O'Brien said. "To hold a team that's on a hot streak [five victories in their previous six games] is good . . . Defense is something we really work on, probably 75 percent of the time in practice."
No one was more disappointed than Dalembert, who has painful memories of his season under O'Brien and said Monday, "This is personal."
"The offense wasn't there for us," Dalembert said. "That kind of affected us defensively, not getting back and guarding a man. The energy wasn't there. Usually, we have energy coming off the bench. That wasn't there. When you've got a combination of all those things, your chances to win are low.
"I know we're a better team than we showed. We had a good game plan. We just didn't execute it. Exactly what coach said was going to happen, that's exactly what happened."
The low point came after the decision was no longer in doubt. Miller and Cheeks were assessed technical fouls with 2:46 left. Cheeks voiced his displeasure to referees Danny Crawford and Rodney Mott, and at one point shook off assistant Henry Bibby, who was trying to restrain him.
"Part of the game," was all Cheeks said about the sequence.
There really were no surprises from the Pacers. They played a typical O'Brien game.
"They play a very free style of basketball, a lot of quick threes," Korver said. "And if you're not ready for that and they start hitting them, you're going to be in trouble. You know what's coming. You know they're going to really push it, take those quick shots. When they're hitting those shots and you're not scoring, the odds of winning aren't very good."
The Sixers announced that
would be on hand for tomorrow night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, representing the 1982-83 championship team. The current Sixers will wear replicas of the uniforms worn during the title run . . . After that game, Lower Merion High, alma mater of Lakers star
, will face Marple-Newtown . . . As if the Lakers aren't a sufficient attraction, hot dogs will cost $1. Feel free to fill in your own punchlines. *