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Pacers aim for improved shooting against 76ers

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Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan calls a time out in the 4th quarter against the New York Knicks on October 31 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

By Mark Ambrogi, The Sports Xchange
INDIANAPOLIS

The Indiana Pacers were the 11th-best free-throw shooting team in the NBA at 77.9 percent last season.

In the first 11 games, that figure has dropped dramatically to 70.4 percent, the third-worst shooting percentage in the conference.

"We've just gotta step up and make them, not overthink it," Pacers guard Victor Oladipo said. "Just relax and take our time and do what've been doing all our lives honestly, and that's make free throws. We've just gotta work on it. I think it's all mental."

The Pacers (7-4) will look for an improved foul shooting showing when it hosts Philadelphia (6-5) Wednesday night.

Both teams are coming off losses. The Pacers lost to visiting Houston 98-94 on Monday night and the 76ers lost to Brooklyn 122-97 on Sunday night

McMillan said the only solution is even more practice time on the free throws.

"We want to be the aggressors and get to the free-throw line, and we leave 10 free throws (20-of-30) out there (Monday night)," McMillan said. "We're a much better free-throw shooting team than that. We just have to continue to work at it, take a deep breath and knock them down."

Pacers point guard Darren Collison said the players must work harder in gym.

"Good free-throw shooters like myself and all the guards, it's inexcusable to miss that many free throws," Collison said.

Oladipo said the team gave itself a chance to win despite the missed free throws.

"We'll move onto the next day, learn from this one, and get ready for Wednesday," Oladipo said.

Collison said the team has to be more mentally strong down the stretch.

"We kind of let plays get behind us and we didn't execute the way we wanted to execute," Collison said.

McMillan wants a faster pace.

"I thought we were taking too much time getting the ball up the floor and getting into our sets," McMillan said.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown was upset with his team's overall showing in the 25-point loss at Brooklyn. Brown called the performance unacceptable.

"In general, it was a poor performance that was unexpected and nobody is going to overreact to it, but that's the lay of the land," Brown said. "That's what happened. That's the way I see it."

A major problem was a season-high 27 turnovers.

"Too many turnovers early," said Sixers point guard Ben Simmons, who committed five turnovers. "I'm thinking about it too much, overthinking that's one of the things. But I know I can lower that."

Simmons agreed with Brown that the performance was unacceptable.

"I don't know if it's a mental thing, toughness thing or just something we really need to point out," he said. "Let everybody what we need to do on the floor."

Joel Embiid leads the Sixers with 28.4 scoring average. JJ Redick is averaging 17.9 points.

"We need more from others," Brown told the team website. "Everybody is aware of it."

Simmons scored 20 points against Brooklyn to raise his scoring average to 13.9.

Brown is pleased with the number of assists.

"I think we do a good job of continuing to share the ball," he said.

Philadelphia starting forward Robert Covington, who has averaged 11.5 points in all 11 games, is listed as questionable for Wednesday night's game with lower back soreness.

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