INDIANAPOLIS —The 76ers’ game-day routine on the road was different.
Following Sunday’s businesslike practice in Dallas, coach Brett Brown scrapped the team’s scheduled Monday morning shootaround in Indy.
Instead, he said they had a “good” team breakfast and “good” team film study session hours before facing the Indiana Pacers.
“Sometimes you want to bust up the monotony of like a maniacal routine,” Brown said. "We haven’t had success on the road. Like we’ve had split personalities for whatever reason.
“I felt most importantly we did what we needed to do the day before.”
The change in routine couldn’t help snap the Sixers’ road skid.
Their 101-95 setback marked their sixth consecutive loss away from Philadelphia. They dropped to 25-16 overall and 7-14 on the road. They also trail 1-2 in the season series with the Pacers (25-15). The fourth and final game of the season series is March 14 at the Wells Fargo Center, where the Sixers are 18-2.
The two teams also switched places in the Eastern Conference standings. The Pacers moved up to fifth place while the Sixers dropped to sixth.
“We are together,” Sixers shooting guard Josh Richardson said of the mood in the locker room. "It’s not no big crazy, big thing. Everybody is not happy about the loss. We are upset. But we are upset together.
“So if there’s any positive you can take out of it, it’s that.”
Ben Simmons led the Sixers with 24 points to go with 14 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal, with just 2 turnovers. Richardson added 23 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter.
In the first half, Simmons had 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting as the Sixers built a 49-40 advantage. This marked the second time in his career he had scored at least 20 points at the half. Simmons had 26 points at intermission on Dec. 7 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Monday, he scored four points after intermission on 1-for-6 shooting.
He wasn’t the only Sixer starter with little to zero offensive production in the fourth quarter.
Tobias Harris finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the game. Al Horford added 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal, and the other starter, Mike Scott, had five points.
However, the trio and Simmons combined for two points on 1-for-4 shooting in the fourth quarter. Harris scored the two points on 1-for-2 shooting, and Simmons missed two shot attempts.
“We starting playing a little different style of play,” Simmons said. “We slowed it down, which wasn’t working for us. At the start of the game, we were playing with a little more pace, moving the ball a lot more. ... We have to go watch film.”
Seven of the team’s 13 turnovers also came in the fourth quarter.
But the Sixers were also doomed by making just 6 of 33 three-point attempts (18.2%) for the game.
“We have to make more open looks,” Harris said. “I think all around we haven’t shot it well from three. We’ve got to stick with it. But at the same time, we’ve got to make more looks, more shots that we’re getting.”
This time, the Sixers blew an 11-point third-quarter lead before the teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 69.
Richardson kept the Sixers in the game late. He hit a three-pointer to put the Sixers up 95-94 with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left.
However, Myles Turner responded with a pair of foul shots to put the Pacers up one with 1:41 remaining. Then Malcolm Brogdon added a foul shot with 32.3 seconds left to make it a 97-95 game.
The Sixers called a timeout to draw up a play. However, the play ended with Harris getting his three-point attempt blocked by T.J. Warren.
Brogdon made a pair of foul shots on the ensuing possession before Domantas Sabonis split a pair with 11.9 seconds left to make it a 100-95 game.
Then Warren added a foul shot 9.6 seconds remaining to give the Pacers a six-point margin of victory.
The small forward and Brogdon led Indiana with 21 points apiece. Turner had 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Sabonis finished with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
Reserve guard Justin Holiday had 14 points while making 4 of 6 three-pointers.
Monday’s contest marked the halfway point of the season for the Sixers. It was their 41st game out of an 82-game regular-season slate.
Before the game, Brown said the team is learning what its identity is going to be.
“I know what I want it to be,” he said. “To say, ‘Yep, that’s what it is,’ that would not be true. It’s changed even more now without Jo for a while.”
Joel Embiid missed his third straight game Monday. The All-Star center, who is the team’s leading scorer, had surgery Friday to repair a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand.
The Sixers are still figuring things out during what Brown calls “an opportunity to solidify what’s life like without Joel." The hope is that the team will have momentum and inner confidence once Embiid returns.
“To sort of anoint this is who we are at the halfway mark,” Brown said, “it’s difficult for me to do that.”
But he wants the identity to be “Philadelphia hard and defense.”
“It’s a blue-collar city,” Brown said. “It’s how I see the world. That needs to be the starting point. Then you get down to the offensive stuff and say, ‘Ben Simmons isn’t slow.’”
So the coach wants the Sixers to play fast. That’s easy to accomplish while Embiid is out. But Brown pointed out that Embiid is still the team’s crown jewel. They are going to try to find him in the post and play through him when he returns.
“That split personality offensively is a challenge at times,” Brown said. "That’s where it will end up, and for sure that’s where it will end up for the playoffs.