On Christmas Day, the Philadelphia Sixers were the talk of the NBA.
The Sixers completed their most impressive win of an up and down regular season with a marquee win over the Milwaukee Bucks, their jumbo starting lineup stifling the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Any thought that the game could mark a definitive turning point in their season has quickly dissipated, however, as they remain winless since that day, with their latest loss coming to the Indiana Pacers.
The final score of 115-97 only tells part of the story - Indiana led by as many as 36 points despite losing Malcolm Brogdon to back soreness early in the contest.
Banged up Brogdon
Souring the impressive night for the Pacers was the early exit of Malcolm Brogdon, who left the game early and failed to return with what the team described as back soreness.
Malcolm is OUT for the rest of the game. https://t.co/uBG5Rn4vWV- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 31, 2019
Indiana head coach Nate McMillan said the incident occurred when Brogdon fell to the floor during the first quarter, causing back spasms.
The 27-year-old guard was making his return after missing the last three games with hamstring soreness. He has missed seven games in total this season with various ailments.
Brogdon moved to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade deal over the offseason with a long injury history, having missed 52 regular season games and eight playoff contests over the past two seasons with Milwaukee.
With Indiana still awaiting the return of Victor Oladipo, the Pacers will be hoping the back spasms are on the minor end of the scale for their guard who has pieced together an All-Star calibre season so far.
Sixers go cold from deep
After scorching the Bucks for a franchise record tying 21 made threes on Christmas Day, the lid has well and truly shut on the rim for the Sixers over the three games that have followed.
In losses to Orlando, Miami and Indiana, Philadelphia has shot 26-for-88 from deep, a 29 percent mark.
Against the Pacers, the starting group was 3-for-15, with Josh Richardson being the main culprit in knocking down just one of his six attempts.
Outside shooting will continue to be a narrative for a squad that ranks 26th in the league for attempts from deep at just 30.1 a night.
Philadelphia's road struggles continue
With their third straight loss, Philadelphia has slumped to the sixth seed in the East with a 23-13 record.
The fact the 76ers remain 10 games over .500 becomes even more remarkable when you factor in they are now 7-11 on the road.
Out of the 16 teams currently holding a playoff position, only the Magic (4-12) hold a more futile record away from home, which has to be a concern for a team that has legitimate aspirations for winning the title.
Sabonis takes the lead as Pacers depth shows out
Domantas Sabonis may well become a first-time All-Star in Chicago, as the double-double machine continues to produce with regularity.
Posting 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Sabonis was a constant force as a scorer and distributor against a topline Philadelphia defence - albeit minus Joel Embiid.
Forming one of the league's best pick-and-roll partnerships with Brogdon, Sabonis was left on his own when his point guard exited the game, but it was the other Pacers that stepped up, as five other teammates would score in double digits, including back-up guard T.J McConnell.
can't match @TJMcConnell's energy 🔋 pic.twitter.com/arYTzNxbX3- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 31, 2019
McConnell added 11 points to go with 10 assists and four rebounds in 27 minutes, as McMillan's squad continues to fight through injury adversity.
Indiana now moves to 22-12 on the season, good for fifth in the East. Now the Pacers just need a little luck with injury.
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