INDIANAPOLIS -- Dario Saric's demeanor would have been different earlier in the season.
The rookie wore each missed shot on his sleeve after games. His facial expressions painted pictures of disappointment and self-critique.
If Saric had shot 3 for 15 from the field and 1 for 6 from three a month or two ago, well, you can imagine how hard he would have been on himself.
On Sunday night, however, he looked more like an experienced player who accepted an off-night vs. a rookie who was rehashing every mistake. His growth over the past 73 games was apparent following the Sixers' 107-94 loss to the Pacers (see Instant Replay).
"No time for crying, or something like that," Saric said. "I need to change my mind and be focused for the next game."
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Saric recorded nine points with 10 rebounds, one assist, four turnovers and three fouls. It was his lowest scoring total since Feb. 4 when he had four points against the Heat. Saric snapped his streak of 22 straight games with 10 or more points dating back to Feb. 6.
Just two days before the Pacers' game, he had set a career-high of 32 points against the Bulls.
"You never question his heart or his work ethic or his energy," Brett Brown said. "It was just one of those nights."
Saric is averaging 12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 26.1 minutes this season. His numbers have soared since the Sixers traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks and Joel Embiid was sidelined. Saric has become the focal point of the offense. He entered Sunday's game posting 19.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 32.3 minutes since the All-Star break.
One of the keys to Saric's standout first season, which has him in Rookie of the Year contention, is his emotional fire. That didn't go away in the loss. He just has found ways to see the bigger picture of an 82 game season and understanding. Harping on a poor performance can end up hindering players in the next contest.
"It's a new day," Brown said of his message to Saric. "That's part of the NBA. Things come quick. You win and it goes away, you lose and it goes away. It's how you move on as much as anything."
Saric doesn't have much time to dwell on this performance. The Sixers have a quick turnaround with a game Tuesday in Brooklyn followed by a back-to-back at home against the Hawks.
Saric has reached a point -- quite quickly considering the multitude of adjustments he has had to make coming to the NBA from Europe -- where the value of moving on overrides the natural reaction of feeling let down.
"I will try not overthink about it," Saric said. "I will try to forget but keep little piece of that game so I don't have something like this happen again."