Playing their third game in as many nights, the Indiana Pacers looked reasonably fresh during their 88-69 victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay). It was the 76ers who looked stale.

“We looked like the team that played 10 games in 10 nights,” head coach Doug Collins said. “That’s the kind of energy we played with.”

The Sixers’ energy appeared to have vanished without power forward Thad Young in the lineup. Out for at least three weeks with a Grade I hamstring strain, Young is the Sixers’ “most important player,” according to Collins. Young usually guards the opposition’s best offensive player, he always fills the lanes on the fast break and he might be the best in the NBA at blowing up pick-and-roll plays on defense.

Without Young the Sixers had no spark, nor anyone to battle against Indiana’s big frontcourt. Early in the first quarter it appeared as if the Sixers shifted to a zone defense to help against the pick-and-roll and the low-post offense. However, Collins said he didn’t send in a zone.

“Maybe we were just standing around,” Collins said. “It looked like we were playing zone.”

Not only did the lethargic Sixers score a season-low 69 points, but also they shot 34.4 percent from the floor, made just 22 of 50 shots in the paint and attempted just seven foul shots. It was the fourth time in the last five games that the Sixers attempted fewer than 10 free throws.

Of course it didn’t help that the Sixers’ starting five shot 15 for 59 (25.4 percent) from the floor in the loss.

“I just don’t think we hit shots,” leading scorer Jrue Holiday understated. “I think we got good shots and obviously it’s a reoccurring issue, but we got good shots. We just have to knock them down.”

Certainly stringing together a handful of shots would have helped. That’s especially the case since the Sixers trailed by only three points at the half despite shooting just 31 percent. However, the Sixers shot just 7 for 22 during the third quarter, with six of those buckets coming from inside the paint.