PHILADELPHIA — Coach Brett Brown rarely tells the 76ers they’re about to play a big regular-season game.
He did Tuesday night.
“We’re going into this game thinking this is an important game,” Brown said. “Rarely do I go there. I went there.”
Philadelphia literally threw the opportunity for a big win away.
Myles Turner sank 9 of 12 shots and scored 25 points as the Indiana Pacers beat the Sixers 101-98 before a raucous Wells Fargo Center crowd. Sixers center Joel Embiid missed a 3-pointer at the final buzzer that would have tied the game.
The biggest reason the Sixers lost was the 21 turnovers they committed. The Pacers committed just nine.
“Some of the turnovers were self-inflicted,” Brown said. “Too many of them happened (during a fast break). I’d be curious to go back and watch the tape and see how many happened in the first three to four seconds of a shot clock. The turnovers were the single thing that influences this game.”
There was plenty of reason for Brown to label Tuesday night’s contest a big game.
The Sixers (36-30) are sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers (40-28) are No. 3. These teams could meet again in the first round of the playoffs next month.
To realistically have a chance to catch the Pacers in the standings, Philadelphia needed to win Tuesday.
The Pacers are quietly playing as well as any NBA team. Indiana is 6-1 in March with wins over the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards.
Tuesday’s game resembled a postseason contest with plenty of physical play.
Indiana grabbed the lead midway through the first quarter and never trailed again.
Embiid scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds but had eight turnovers. Ben Simmons had a triple double — 10 points, 13 rebounds and a 10 assists. Dario Saric scored 18 points but committed five turnovers.
It seemed as if every time the 76ers seemed on the verge of tying the game, they would throw the ball away.
“We have to get better with some individuals,” Brown said when asked about the turnovers. “As a team, we have to get better. Some if I have to own. We are improving. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights.”
The Sixers played good defense. The Pacers shot 40 percent — 38 for 95 — from the field. Indiana standout guard Victor Oladipo sank just 4 of 21 shots and scored 11 points.
But the turnovers again negated that defensive effort. Philadelphia made 35 of 75 shots, but it’s hard to win a game when your opponent takes 20 more shots.
“We’re up and down,” Brown said. "We make not-wise decisions.”
The loss ended the Sixers’ 11-game home-court winning streak and continued a season long trend.
Philadelphia has struggled with turnovers since opening night. The Sixers average an NBA-worst 16.4 turnovers a game.
Brown has talked all season about the Sixers needing to take better care of the basketball. Why is it still a problem? The team’s youth is the biggest reason.
“It’s hard to expediate someone’s birth certificate,” Brown said.