PHILADELPHIA — Spencer Hawes has tried to blossom into a leader in the locker room. As a 76ers season full of promise collapsed under injury and underachievement, he pulled the team together and delivered a message: Stay together.
His encouragement mattered. His all-around terrific play has meant more.
Hawes had 18 points, a season-best eight assists and career highs with 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots to lead Philadelphia to a 98-91 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.
"I really like the nucleus we have here and what we've built here," Hawes said. "This year has been tough on everybody. I think if we can keep the right mindset going forward, and finish out strong, I think the future is bright."
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.
"It's fun when the ball is moving," Holiday said. "I think I got most of my points just from, actually from Spencer. Just somebody passing it backdoor."
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 Roy 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.
They beat the Nets behind 24 points and 10 rebounds from Hawes to open a four-game homestand and finish Monday against Portland. With three outstanding performances against three top teams, the Sixers are left wondering why they haven't played like this all season.
"Yeah, but there's no point about worrying about what's happened in the past," Hawes said.
Celtics 105, Bobcats 88
At Boston, Paul Pierce had 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter, and Boston won its 11th straight at home.
Avery Bradley scored 13 and Courtney Lee had 12 points and five assists as the Celtics beat the Bobcats for the first time in three meetings this season. Two of the Bobcats' NBA-low 14 wins came against the Celtics, including a 100-74 blowout in Charlotte on Tuesday.
Kevin Garnett sat out with a strained left thigh muscle, but the Celtics put all five starters were in double figures.
Jannero Pargo led Charlotte with 18 points. Gerald Henderson had 16 points, Kemba Walker scored 14 and Josh McRoberts pulled down 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who lost for the 12th time in 13 games.
Spurs 119, Cavaliers 113
At San Antonio, Tim Duncan had 30 points and 12 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 24 points and 13 boards, and San Antonio beat Cleveland.
Manu Ginobili added 14 points and 10 assists, Nando De Colo had 11 points and Tiago Splitter had 10 for San Antonio (51-16), which is 11/2; games ahead of Oklahoma City in the Western Conference.
Wayne Ellington had 21 points and fellow reserve Marreese Speights added 19 for Cleveland (22-44). Shaun Livingston had 16 points, and Alonzo Gee and Dion Waiters added 15 apiece.
Wizards 127, Suns 105
At Washington, Martell Webster scored a career-high 34 points and became Washington's first 30-point scorer this season.
John Wall added 17 points and 11 assists as Washington won its fourth straight at home and third straight overall while setting its season high in scoring.
Emeka Okafor added 17 points and 10 rebounds as Washington snapped a 10-game losing streak to Phoenix, dating to 2006.
Michael Beasley scored 21 points and Goran Dragic added 12 points and 11 assists as the Suns lost their fourth straight and fell into last place in the Western Conference.
Jazz 90, Grizzlies 84
At Salt Lake City, Gordon Hayward scored 17 points in his first start since November, including a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, and Utah beat Memphis.
The Grizzlies (44-21) had won 14 of 15 but have dropped two straight to close out a four-game road trip.
Utah (34-32) pulled within a half-game of the idle Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Jerryd Bayless led all scorers with 24 points. Memphis teammate Zach Randolph added 19 and Mike Conley 13 but on just 6-of-18 shooting.