for this game

Pacers dial long distance, hand O'Brien win over Sixers

Jan 22, 2008 - 12:29 AM By Mike Luongo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- In less than one season, Indiana Pacers coach Jim O'Brien has turned a lethargic offense into one of the league's higher-scoring units. His former team found that out the hard way.

Kareem Rush had a season-high 25 points and Mike Dunleavy Jr. added 24 for the Pacers en route to a 110-103 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

O'Brien returned to the Wachovia Center for the first time since he was fired as 76ers coach following the 2004-05 season, when he led Philadelphia to its last winning record and most recent playoff berth.

In his first season at the helm in Indiana, he has turned the seventh-worst offense into the sixth-highest scoring team in the NBA.

"Offensively, this team has to play the way we're playing," O'Brien said. "Last year, they learned that to stand around and throw the ball to Jermaine (O'Neal) is not the way to play. If this doesn't work, I don't have a 'Plan B' to tell you the truth."

A key to the offensive resurgence has been the Pacers' 3-point shooting, which was on full display on Monday.

Indiana shot 56 percent (14-of-25) from the arc, helping the Pacers outscore the Sixers, 42-12, for the contest from 3-point range.

"I want our players to be cold-blooded when shooting the three," O'Brien said. "I don't even blink that they shoot it. I expect them to make their fair share. We have opened up the middle because we're not going to overpower anybody inside."

"They created a real matchup problem for us," Sixers guard Willie Green said. "They penetrated and kicked the ball out for threes and they were hitting today. When they are hitting those shots, its tough."

Dunleavy said the Pacers have benefited from O'Brien's wide-open style of offense.

"He's had a big impact on both ends of the floor," Dunleavy said. "Offensively, he lets us play. We like to get up and down and run every chance we get and he puts guys in position to succeed."

Dunleavy scored 21 points in the first half as Indiana hit three of the team's 10 shots from the arc in the first 24 minutes of the contest, including a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Pacers a commanding 63-49 advantage heading into intermission.

"We got out early and forced the tempo on them," Dunleavy said. "We wanted to get up and down and score a lot of points and we did that in the first half."

Indiana led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter when Danny Granger drilled a 3-pointer to stake the Pacers to a 100-85 lead with 8:22 remaining.

Philadelphia quickly answered with a 9-0 run to trim it deficit to six points before Granger hit another jumper to leave the Indiana leading, 102-94.

The Sixers cut the advantage to six points twice more but their comeback was thwarted both times by jumpers from Rush.

"I've been really aggressive and have gotten into a streak the last couple of games," Rush said. "My teammates and the coaches want me to be that way. I've been looking to score and I'm going to do that."

Philadelphia's Louis Williams hit a late 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 108-103, but Jamaal Tinsley hit a pair of free throws for Indiana to provide the final margin.

"It was a game of runs," Dunleavy said. "We would get up and they would come back and cut it real close. It just kept going back and forth, and we were able to hold on."

Granger added 18 points for the Pacers, who won for just the fourth time in their last 14 games.

Andre Iguodala scored 23 points to pace the Sixers, who fell to 8-12 at home this season.

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