Published April 17, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – Philadelphia finally got things right on the final night of the season.
The 76ers looked like the high-scoring, solid defensive team the brass envisioned when it traded for Andrew Bynum.
On a night Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes played fewer than 10 minutes, Dorell Wright scored 23 points and Evan Turner added 16 to give coach Doug Collins one more win — perhaps his last win — as the 76ers coach, 105-95 in a meaningless season finale at Indiana.
"Whatever he wants to do, whatever makes him feel happy, you know what I'm saying," Turner said when asked if he wanted Collins back. "You go through that type of year, go through that type of situation, strenuous and all of that. It's all about what he decides to do. He has a lot of options and whatever's the best decision for him. He could always go back to commentating or, you know, his son's the head coach at Northwestern, so whatever he wants to do that makes him happy."
Collins is expected to give up his coaching job Thursday after three seasons on the bench though he referred to himself Wednesday night as the coach. Philadelphia has already scheduled morning news conferences with Collins and the managing owner.
The usually flamboyant Collins sat dispassionately in his seat for most of the game, as he has done for most of the past two weeks. When he did talk, it was mostly with a hand covering his mouth.
The game itself had little intrigue.
While Holiday, the All-Star guard, barely became Philadelphia's first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967-68 to average more than 17 points and eight assists for an entire season, the Pacers rested four starters after already being locked into the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Indiana (49-32) will open the first round Sunday against sixth-seeded Atlanta, a team it went 2-2 against this season and hasn't played in the postseason since 1996.
Indiana (49-32) wasn't the only team playing it safe.
Holiday essentially took the night off, too. He finished with five points and no assists in 9 minutes, 16 seconds, giving him final numbers of 17.7 points and 8.01 assists to join Chamberlain. Spencer Hawes went to the bench with two fouls a little more than four minutes into the game, and Thaddeus Young had 10 points and eight rebounds in 21½ minutes, barely missing his 22nd double-double of the season.
The Holiday brothers — Jrue and Justin — and the Hansbrough brothers — Ben and Tyler — also became the first brother tandem to play in the same NBA game.
But after a season that began with Eastern Conference title hopes and ended with the 76ers (34-48) heading home for a long offseason after winning three of their last four, nobody, other than perhaps Collins, knows what to expect next.
"For our fans there should be a lot of hope. We think there are some good pieces here and if those young guys will continue to develop and we make some good moves in the offseason, could be right back in the thick of things," Collins said.
Indiana, the Central Division, champs came into Wednesday night with three goals -- stay healthy, get its fatigued starters some extra rest and find some momentum.
Playing without All-Star Paul George, George Hill, Roy Hibbert and David West certainly didn't help matters -- and it showed. Gerald Green scored a career-high 34 points. Nobody else scored more than 12.
After giving up the first 11 points of the game, the Pacers spent the rest of the night futilely playing catch-up. Three times they cut the deficit to nine in the first half. They couldn't get closer than that until Jeff Pendergraph's layup made it 96-88 with 4:14 to play and couldn't get any closer than that until Green's dunk made it 101-95 with 32.6 seconds left. Indiana didn't even bother to foul in the final possessions and now heads into the playoffs with five losses in its last six games.
"Ideally, you want to be playing your best ball at this time of year," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We were up until the final week. For whatever reason we've struggled the last week. But, I've seen red hot teams go into the playoffs and get bounced and I've seen teams that struggled the final few weeks going very, very deep. I wouldn't overreact to it."
Notes: Philadelphia finished this season with one fewer win than it had during the lockout season of 2011-12. ... Indiana has had the league's top scoring defense most of the season but has allowed 97 or more points in six of its last eight games. ... The 76ers finished the season 11-30 on the road but went 5-5 in its last 10 games outside of Philadelphia.