"Needless to say we were in an uphill struggle the whole night," said despondent Sixers coach Doug Collins. "We came out incredibly flat. This is a team that can really shoot the ball. They got out to a great, great start."
Mercurial point guard Darren Collison got to wherever he wanted on the court without much resistance throughout the game, and it led to him finishing with 21 points and 13 assists. Benefiting most from Collison's playmaking were swingmen Danny Granger, who went off for 27 points, and Mike Dunleavy, who posted 20 including 15 in the first quarter when the Pacers quickly jumped out to a 10-point lead.
"These last two losses are difficult to swallow," said Elton Brand, referring to Saturday's 112-109 loss in Detroit in which the Pistons hit a three-pointer in the last seconds to send the game into OT. "At Detroit, we had that game. Tonight, we came back from  down and took a [five- point] lead. This is tough to swallow these two losses."
Jrue Holiday collected 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Sixers, who fell to 15-23 and lost for just the third time in their last 12 home games.
The Pacers didn't so much settle for jump shots throughout the game as much as they took what was given to them. So infrequently did the Pacers try to get to the basket that they only went to the foul line one time entering the fourth quarter, and that was on a technical foul.
The Pacers opened their biggest lead of the game early in the third quarter when a 15-footer by Tyler Hansbrough (12 points, nine rebounds) gave them a 67-51 advantage. But the Sixers, powered by Lou Williams and Marreese Speights, scored 38 of the game's next 55 points to take a five-point lead, 89-84, early in the fourth.
That's when the Pacers decided to try to make their way to the basket, and they did so pretty easily. But it was a three by Granger with 4 minutes, 33 seconds left that gave them a 95-94 lead, and they scored 12 of the game's final 14 points to pull out the win.
Brand had 18 points for the Sixers, while Speights and Evan Turner had 14 each. Jodie Meeks scored 13, while Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young each added 12.
Iguodala, playing for the first time since Dec. 26 due to tendinitis in his right Achilles', played over 33 minutes and missed all seven of his shots, scoring just one point. He did deal seven assists and grabbed four rebounds, but seemed to be at least a step slower than normal.
"The loss hurts in the [playoff] standings a little bit; we just wanted to get the win," said Iguodala, who produced his lowest point total since his rookie season. "I'm good. Basketball is basketball. I just went out there and played. Offensively, I'm just trying to make reads, just trying to find my timing. I felt fine. I was just playing basketball. I feel fine."
Collins appeared anything but following the loss. He was trying all night to find some kind of energy for his team, and played starting center Spencer Hawes just 5 minutes. Andres Nocioni was limited to about 3 minutes due to a fractured middle finger on his right hand. Add in Iguodala's return and the coach was shuffling more than a casino card dealer.
"Any time you change, it's going to take a while," Collins said. "You do not just make a change and it not take a little while. We just have to play through that."
As for Iguodala, Collins said he had no regrets of giving him so many minutes. "He's one of our best players. Eventually he has got to start playing. He said he was ready to go."
The Sixers were not at the start, and Collins, looking for something, anything, pulled Hawes early and went with Speights.
"He's really struggling," Collins said of Hawes. "Really struggling. And Mo is playing great. We need Spencer. He had that one stretch [of six games earlier in the season] where he played really well and for whatever reason he's had a period here where he's struggled. We've got to get him back playing."
It would have helped last night, when the Sixers fell almost as silently as the snow outside the building. *
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