Two teams. Two two-game losing streaks. Who would prevail? (Hint: It wasn’t the home team.)
A slow start by the Brooklyn Nets resulted in an 8-0 run for Indiana, and the Pacers took a 14-8 lead. That did not last for long though, as the Nets heated up from long range. Allen Crabbe, in his return, especially spearheaded Brooklyn’s comeback by knocking down all three of his three-pointers in the first quarter. It was 29-28 Nets after the first 12 minutes.
That hot streak would not continue into the second quarter for Brooklyn, however, with the Pacers increasing their intensity on defense and the Nets coughing up little resistance. Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo led the way for Indiana, combining for 15 of the Pacers’ 31 second quarter points. They were also the only two Pacers in double digits at halftime.
The Nets tried to show some signs of life toward the end of the quarter. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson knocked down a triple with 3:25 to go, which was followed by a gorgeous pass from Spencer Dinwiddie to Tyler Zeller for a fast break layup. That was still not enough to stop the Pacers though, and Indiana held a 59-48 advantage at halftime.
After trailing by as much as 14 points, the Nets made good progress in chipping away at the Pacers’ lead in the beginning of the third quarter. Dinwiddie, Hollis-Jefferson and Tyler Zeller all contributed to Brooklyn’s push. With 5:07 remaining in the period, a floater from Caris LeVert cut the Nets’ deficit to six, prompting Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan to call a timeout.
Both teams found themselves at a standstill for the following two minutes, with some ugly basketball and empty possessions ensuing. Indiana was the first to break that dry spell, with Darren Collison knocking down two consecutive jumpers to bring the Pacers’ lead back to double digits.
The Nets closed the third quarter with some pizzazz, with Joe Harris hitting the final two shots for them. That brought Indiana’s lead back down to six. However, a long two-pointer from Collison at the horn extended it to 80-72.
Jarrett Allen opened the fourth quarter with an authoritative slam plus the foul, and the Nets found themselves within five points. The Pacers answered back with an 8-0 run powered by Oladipo, Sabonis and Cory Joseph.
Four straight points from LeVert and Hollis-Jefferson kept the Nets alive despite the big double-digit hole the team was in. That brought the Pacers’ margin back down to 10 points, and Brooklyn’s energy was visibly different in the following minutes. Hollis-Jefferson hustled to contribute to a backcourt violation for Indiana, LeVert made another driving layup and Quincy Acy hit a three to get the Nets within seven, 96-89.
That would not be good enough for Brooklyn to make a successful comeback, however. The Nets were stone cold for the next two and a half minutes, and contributions from Myles Turner, Oladipo and Collison gave Indiana the largest lead of the night, 106-90. And, the rest is history.
The stats: 17 PTS, 5-8 FG, 4-6 3FG, 3-3 FT, 3 AST, 1 STL, 3 TOV, 29 MIN
Allen Crabbe was the star of the first quarter. It’s too bad he was pretty quiet in the second half though — the Nets really could’ve used his help.
The stats: 14 PTS, 6-11 FG, 2-5 3FG, 3 AST, 1 TOV, 25 MIN
Joey Buckets was a great offensive spark plug for the Nets when things were looking pretty drab in the third. It was great to have some beacon of light heading into the final 12 minutes.
The stats: 9 PTS, 2-10 FG, 1-2 3FG, 4-4 FT, 6 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 2 TOV, 30 MIN
Rough night for Rondae as far as shooting goes, but he did provide a lot of energy even with the Nets down by double digits. For that reason, he’ll get a slightly higher grade from us.
The stats: 14 PTS, 6-11 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-5 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL, 1 TOV, 31 MIN
The Nets basically had a different hero each quarter, and Caris LeVert made his case for that title in the fourth quarter. He was one of the reasons the Nets remained pesky in the first half of the final period.