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Pacers: 50-win plateau

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Fortunately for the Indiana Pacers, quantity matters more than quality.

Because quantity, as in stacking wins, is the top priority as the regular season winds down. And the Pacers are doing that.

Quality, as in sharp performances, won’t become an issue until the playoffs. And the Pacers are sorely lacking at the moment.

Be that as is it may, the Pacers earned their fourth straight win with a 99-90 triumph Monday night against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.

With the win, the Pacers (50-17) maintained their slim advantage on the Miami Heat (45-19) for first place in the Eastern Conference.

And with 15 games to go, earning the top seed in the East is the Pacers’ chief objective. Their recent schedule has advanced their cause, in that their past four wins have come against opponents with losing records — including a pair of victories against the 76ers

(15-52), who have lost 21 straight.

In all four games, Indiana struggled until the closing minutes.

Three nights ago, the Pacers trailed by 25 before rallying for an overtime win at Detroit. On Monday, they clung to an 88-85 lead with 2:52 to play before finally pulling away and sweeping the three-game series against Philadelphia.

Lance Stephenson led the way with a game-high 25 points. Paul George had a rough shooting night (4 of 14 from the field) but finished with 24 points. He was 15 of 16 from the foul line.

George Hill added 11 points, and Ian Mahinmi contributed to 10 off the bench to round out the Pacers’ double-figure scorers.

Indiana made only 12 of 43 second-half shots but compensated at the foul line, where it was 13 of 15 in the half compared to 4 of 7 by the 76ers.

For the game, the Pacers were outshot from the field 43 percent to 38 percent but again made up the difference at the line. They made 31 of 38 attempts compared to 11 of 20 by Philadelphia.

Offensively, it was a particularly difficult night for the Pacers starters. David West was 3 of 14 from the field for seven points, and Roy Hibbert was 3 of 8 for eight points.

Of Indiana’s double-figure scorers, only Stephenson (8 of 16) and Mahinmi (4 of 5) shot 50 percent or better from the field. Moreover, the Pacers had only 13 assists, which tied a season-low.

Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 23 points. Hollis Thompson and Tony Wroten had 17 each, and Michael Carter-William had 15.

Indiana’s next game is Wednesday at New York, the fifth straight opponent with a losing record. The Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday against the Chicago Bulls, who trail Indiana in the Central Division but are above .500 at 37-29.

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