Brooklyn tried to make it interesting.
After a desolate first half in which the Nets scored just 35 points and trailed by as many as 28, a hot streak powered by Spencer Dinwiddie cut the deficit down to just 12 in the final minutes of the third quarter. Garrett Temple went up for a layup that would have had the Nets down 10 with momentum and the crowd on Brooklyn’s side.
Bounce. Bounce. Miss.
From there, it seemed like the mountain the Nets began to conquer just kept growing. What could have been a 10-point difference grew back to 15 in a flash, and the Pacers kept up the offensive and defensive pressure to not give Brooklyn another whiff in the team’s return home from a five-game road trip.
Brooklyn’s struggles boiled down to the second quarter, where the Nets were out-scored 41-17. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds.
While both teams struggled in the first quarter and ended the frame tied at 18, it was the Pacers that made all the moves in the second. After the Nets went up 14-6 in the first five minutes of the game, the Pacers went on a 53-21 run leading into a 28-point halftime lead.
In that span, the Nets once missed 12 straight shots, the ball was stagnant and any signs of life and confidence were answered by Indiana. The Nets did outscore the Pacers 33-25 in the third quarter, but again, the Pacers countered in the fourth and squashed any hopes of a comeback.
Brooklyn struggled with Indiana’s pace, and managed just five fastbreak points and 35.7 percent shooting because of it.
Domantas Sabonis dominated from the start, registering a career-high 18 rebounds along with 16 points. In addition, the Holiday brothers each had standout nights, with Aaron leading the way with a career-high 24 and 13 assists and Justin adding 20.
The only Net that found an offensive rhythm throughout the night was Spencer Dinwiddie, who far and away led the Nets with 28 points. Jarrett Allen registered a double-double, but otherwise, the Nets had little offensive help — which does not come as a surprise for a team that missed 20 of its first 26 shots, with many struggles snowballing from there.
Brooklyn was again without Kyrie Irving, who is nursing a right shoulder impingement. As Caris LeVert remains out, the Nets are not only missing their guards on the offensive end, but defensively as well.
Brooklyn found a way to close out against the Bulls on Saturday, but perhaps the team still had tired legs coming off its five-game road trip. That is still not an excuse — these players need to help each other to succeed. Iman Shumpert provided some energy, but bench help was near-nonexistent, and Joe Harris cooled down from his 22-point game on Saturday.
The ball was not falling, mistakes came up at inopportune times and chemistry was not flowing. All that adds up to Brooklyn’s lowest-scoring game of the season.
Kenny Atkinson phrased it poignantly in his post-game press conference: “Below average teams are inconsistent, and that’s what we are right now.”
Now at 5-8 on the season, the Nets will hope for some home cooking with two more games at Barclays Center this week. The team hopes for Irving’s return in that time, but there will still be plenty to figure out once he is back.
The stats: 28 PTS, 9-21, 4-8 3PT, 6-7 FT, 5 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 33 MIN
If Dinwiddie did not show life for Brooklyn, this game could have been much worse.
Dinwiddie continued to be a spark after his 24-point game on Saturday, once scoring 10 straight points in the third quarter. He was the only player hitting threes with consistency and driving successfully to the rim.
That move just ain't fair!
Stream #NETSonYES LIVE: https://t.co/1aKVxTNRwG pic.twitter.com/Skq0QrzoqC
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 19, 2019
Dinwiddie is doing what the team needs him to in Irving’s absence — he just needs some help.
The stats: 10 PTS, 4-7 FG, 2-4 FT, 12 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK, 24 MIN
Jarrett Allen was put to work early against an aggressive Indiana team. He even drew contact to his ‘fro.
I mean, dude, if you wanted to touch the 'Fro, you could've just asked…
Stream #NETSonYES LIVE: https://t.co/1aKVxU5soe pic.twitter.com/dDF1t5hcFi
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 19, 2019
Allen helped give the Nets life in the third quarter.
Finishing with a double-double and drawing contact, Allen largely did his job. But Brooklyn needs more from everyone, including its starting big man.
The stats: 10 PTS, 4-10 FG, 2-6 3PT, 0-1 FT, 6 REB, 3 AST, 2 BLK, 32 MIN
Garrett Temple did a little bit of everything, but not enough of a singular thing.
While Temple fills in for LeVert in the starting lineup, Brooklyn needs to rely on him. One missed layup did not lose this game, but it did come at a pivotal moment where the Nets looked like they had a run in them.
Temple is contributing where he can, but the Nets need an extra push from him. That next level likely needs time to reveal itself.
The stats: 7 PTS, 3-8 FG, 1-5 3FG, 2 REB, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 27 MIN
Coming off a 22-point game, more was expected from Joe Harris on Monday night. He missed good looks from three early, and Indiana’s defense made it difficult for him to get many more shots up.
Still, Brooklyn needs Harris’ aggressiveness, energy and craftiness. Harris struggled with Indiana’s pace and defense, and once the Pacers put their foot on the gas in the second quarter, Harris was quiet.
As long as Irving is sidelined, the Nets need Harris to bring up the volume. Indiana stifled him.
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-11 FG, 2-4 3PT, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 TO, 16 MIN
The bench did not provide much help for Brooklyn, and Theo Pinson highlighted those struggles.
After missing a three badly off the backboard in the first half, Pinson did get back into the swing of things in the third quarter. But if he is taking that many shots, he has to finish more of them.
The Nets need a breakout star off the bench with Dinwiddie starting. Pinson can be that player, he just did not put it together Monday night.