INDIANAPOLIS - Doug Collins said it was crucial for his team to get off to a quick start. It looked as if the 76ers coach took his team to the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway for some incentive.
The Sixers descended on Conseco Fieldhouse with their engines revved and motors running, beating the Indiana Pacers up and down the court.
Forcing the action from the opening tap, the Sixers continued their torrid play Tuesday night with a fast-paced, 110-100 victory over the reeling Pacers.
The Sixers (33-30) have won three in a row, seven of eight, and 16 of 21. Indiana (27-36) has lost four in a row and six of seven.
"Our speed game, when we play like that, we are pretty good," Collins said.
Even in recent victories, things haven't always been easy for the Sixers. Tuesday, their engines sputtered a bit in the final quarter.
Indiana, which trailed by 21 points midway through the third quarter, kept chipping away and got to within 100-93 on two free throws by A.J. Price with 2 minutes, 17 seconds left.
Tyler Hansbrough then stole the ball and Price missed a three, but teammate Roy Hibbert grabbed the rebound. Jrue Holiday then deflated the Pacers by stealing a pass from Hibbert. Jodie Meeks hit a three with 1:24 left for a 103-93 lead, continuing a recent trend of clutch three-pointers.
"They were coming back and we were having a hard time stopping them, and Coach had confidence to put me in late in the game as he always does, and I felt if I got the opportunity, I could hit it," said Meeks, who had 15 points as one of seven Sixers in double figures.
Andre Iguodala, coming off two consecutive triple-doubles, had to settle for a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists. In addition, Iguodala held Danny Granger to 11 points, more than nine below his average.
Thaddeus Young led the Sixers with 18 points, shooting 9 for 13, and was among the leaders of the transition game.
"We wanted to make sure we established ourselves up and down the court and establish what we do best," Young said.
The running game can happen only if the Sixers are strong on the defensive end.
"When we get stops, we can run out with the best of them and create opportunities for ourselves because we have that athleticism and youth," Iguodala said.
Hansbrough, who had a game-high 26 points, was one of the few bright spots for the Pacers.
"We were not getting it done defensively and not moving the ball enough," said Indiana interim coach Frank Vogel, the Wildwood graduate.
The way the Sixers were moving up and down the court, it sure did not look as if they were preserving their strength for Wednesday's game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As with many NBA teams, closing the deal is often difficult. In Sunday's 125-117 overtime win over Golden State, the Sixers led by 18 points in the second quarter before trailing by as many as three in the fourth.
"It's tough to close a team out when you get that kind of lead," said forward Elton Brand, who had 12 points and eight rebounds Tuesday. "They made a run and made it tough."
Not tough enough.
The Sixers' other double-figure scorers were Spencer Hawes (12), Holiday (16), and Evan Turner (10).
The Sixers outscored the Pacers, 15-5, in fastbreak points, and even in half-court sets, the Sixers continually beat the Pacers to the basket.
"We thought we had the speed advantage," Collins said.
On this night, he thought correctly.