INDIANAPOLIS - The atmosphere was facilitated by a win hundreds of miles away.
Indeed Atlanta's victory over Boston on Friday was detrimental to the Pacers hopes of being the Eastern Conference's third-seed in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. After all, the Hawks were still technically in pursuit of Indiana coming into Saturday night.
Yet a win by Atlanta meant the Pacers would have a chance themselves to wrap up their best post-season seed in half a decade in front of a nearly packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The moment, indeed, was theirs for the taking.
When it came down to it, however, it was the Sixers who grabbed a potential moment away from the Pacers. Playing for their playoff lives, Philadelphia pulled out a gutty 109-106 overtime victory over Indiana.
"Give Philadelphia a lot of credit, they came to play and played a very solid basketball game," said head coach Frank Vogel after the defeat. "Made some really tough shots down the stretch and in overtime.
"It's a tough loss we just have to come in and regroup and come back Monday."
David West led the Pacers with 32 points, helping the team rally from 14 down in the second half to force overtime. He gave them the lead there with a jumper with 45 seconds left in the extra session gave the Pacers a one-point lead.
But Jrue Holiday got a running hoop and a break-away dunk following the West bucket to give the Sixers a three-point lead with under 20 seconds to go. Danny Granger had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but his three-pointer was off the mark.
"We tried to be the better basketball team, but they just outexecuted us," admitted West following the defeat.
The Sixers were uncooperative for the Pacers moment in the first 12 minutes as they controlled the pace and jumped out to an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter. The Sixers' Lou Williams then went on a ten-point scoring barrage of his own, pushing the lead to as many as 13.
But when Philadelphia cooled off from the field the Pacers were able to chip away at the lead. Paul George's 15 first half points helped the cause and when George Hill hit a short turn-around with .8 seconds left, the Pacers had the lead 54-53 going into the break.
Then things repeated themselves in the second half, with Philadelphia again finding the shooting touch and jumping out to a 13-point lead in the third quarter. The Pacers were able to right themselves a little earlier this time, getting the deficit to seven before the end of the quarter.
Just like in the first half, the Pacers continued to chip away. Roy Hibbert brought the game to even with just over two minutes to go with a basket to make it 96 all. After two free throws by Thaddeus Young for the Sixers, West put in a layup of his own to bring the game to even again.
Paul George had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but his shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
Halfway through the extra session the Pacers finally grabbed the lead thanks to a pair of field goals by West and free throws by Hibbert to go up 104-102. After trading the lead for a few minutes, the Sixers got back-to-back buckets from Jrue Holiday to take a 109-106 lead.
A few bizarre plays followed that bucket. The Pacers were called for a five-second out of bounds violation when they had a chance to tie but were immediately redeemed when the forced a jump ball on the Philadelphia possession.
The Pacers won the tip and got a chance at a game-winning shot, but Granger's attempt was off the mark as the Sixers held on for the win.