INDIANAPOLIS - The 76ers' approach for a game day on the road was different.
Following Sunday's businesslike practice in Dallas, coach Brett Brown scrapped the team's scheduled Monday morning shootaround at Bankers Life Fieldhouse 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 routine change had couldn't help snap the Sixers' road skid.
Their 101-95 setback marked their sixth consecutive loss away from the Wells Fargo Center. 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.
Ben Simmons led the Sixers with 24 points to go with 14 rebounds, three assists and 1 steal. Josh Richardson added 23 points on the same day he was named Eastern Conference player of the week. The shooting guard scored 17 points in the fourth quarter.
While he picked things up late, Simmons cooled off after intermission. He had 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting along with 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal in the first half as the Sixers built a 49-40 advantage. This marked the second time in his career with 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-of-6 shooting.
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 by scoring nine consecutive points. He capped his scoring burst with a three-pointer to put the Sixers up 95-94 with 2:03 left.
However, Myles Turner responded with a pair of foul shots to put the Pacers up one with 1:17 remaining. Then Malcolm Brogdon added a foul shot with 32.3 seconds left make it a 97-95 game.
The Sixers called a timeout to draw up a play. However, the play ended with Tobias 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.
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 second 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 procedure typically requires a month of healing followed by several weeks of physical therapy, sports medicine specialists say.
The Sixers are still figuring things out during what Brown calls "an opportunity to solidify what's life like with 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 that 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 to the Sixers to play fast. That's easy to accomplish while Embiid's 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 the 7-foot-2 Cameroonian 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.
"That's what we are trying to achieve."
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