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Hawes leads 76ers past Pacers, 98-91

PHILADELPHIA – Spencer Hawes had 18 points and career highs with 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 98-91 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.

Jrue Holiday added 27 points and 12 assists to help the Sixers win for only the third time in 15 games. While the Sixers are one of the worst road teams in the league, they are 19-17 at home.

The Sixers led by one at the end of the third quarter, then opened the fourth on a 19-4 run to put away the Pacers. Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young each contributed some lead-stretching buckets in the fourth to put all five starters in double figures.

Roy Hibbert had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.

The 76ers had enough this time to finish off one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They had a late lead and the Heat on the ropes until they blew it and lost by four Wednesday night.

Just like they did against Miami, the Sixers got into an early groove in the quarter to put the upset alert on notice. Dorell Wright hit a 3-pointer and Lavoy Allen came off the bench to score his first two baskets to get a big run going. They forced turnovers on consecutive possessions at one point during the spurt and built a 10-point lead.

Somehow, Hawes, the much-maligned 7-1 center, outplayed Hibbert. Hawes has settled in nicely as a starter after an erratic first 42 games as a reserve. He had a fantastic one-handed rebound right over Hibbert’s head in the third that put the crowd of 18,587 on their feet. Hawes had six blocked shots through the first three quarters and made the Pacers think twice about going inside.

Hawes could have used a few more games like this one to make the season-long absence of Andrew Bynum (bone bruises) a bit more palatable. Instead, the Sixers are limping toward the finish line and a brutal road stretch to end the season looms.

But those are concerns for another day. Not even Paul George’s 3-pointer with 33 seconds left to cut it to five was enough to scare the Sixers.

The Pacers were coming off a 99-93 loss to the Lakers on Friday night and lost to the Sixers for the first time in three games this season.

George had 18 points and 14 rebounds. David West ran into early foul trouble but finished with 18 points.

Holiday, Philadelphia’s All-Star guard, set the pace early with a sensational first half. He scored 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting with six assists. Wright hit a pair of 3s that helped turn an eight-point hole into a four-point lead.

Hibbert scored 14 points in the first half, including a tip-in just before the buzzer to send Indiana into halftime with a 49-48 lead.

Wright and Young each scored 13 points. The Sixers had 28 assists on 39 baskets and a season-high 14 blocks.

Notes: Hall of Famer and 76ers great Julius Erving presented the game ball. Erving attended the game on his bobblehead night. ... Indiana coach Frank Vogel conceded the Pacers can’t catch the Heat for best record in the East. He said the Pacers hope to win the Central Division. ... Hawes’ previous career high in rebounds was 15.

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