The Brooklyn Nets (28-39) and Milwaukee Bucks (34-35) played their second triple-overtime thriller in Brooklyn this season, but unlike the first contest, the home team prevailed. Despite a rebound margin of 81-53 in favor of the Bucks, including 38(!) offensive rebounds (18 from Zaza Pachulia), the Nets outlasted the feisty Bucks 129-127, behind Brook Lopez’s 32 points & 18 rebounds and some late, clutch shooting from Joe Johnson and Bojan Bogdanovic.
Tonight, the Nets focus on an important road game against another team they’re chasing, the Indiana Pacers (30-38), currently tied with Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Pacers dropped their fourth straight game last night, a 95-92 loss in Cleveland to the Cavaliers.
Tonight’s game marks the second of three meetings this season for the Nets and Pacers. In their previous meeting on December 27th, the Pacers outscored the Nets 60-38 in the second half en route to a 110-85 blowout at Barclays Center. Rodney Stuckey led the Pacers with 20 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and four steals while the Nets shot just 36.4 percent from the field.
The Pacers have struggled after a hot stretch. After winning 13 of 15 games, they’ve since lost their last four. A big reason for the Pacers improved play is the return of point guard George Hill to the starting lineup. Hill missed the first 28 games of the season with knee and groin injuries. Since the All-Star break, Hill has averaged 15.4 points and 5.2 assists in 29.6 minutes per game.
All-Star Paul George, despite a report that he might return to the lineup, is out once again tonight. George broke his leg over the summer in a Team USA exhibition and has yet to play in an NBA game since.
Despite the defensive prowess of George absent all season, the Pacers still rank seventh in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions (100.5), fourth in opponent’s effective field goal percentage (47.6 percent).
What to watch for: Deron Williams. Five different Nets played over 40 minutes Friday night, including Jarrett Jack, who played all of the fourth quarter nearly all of overtime at the point. Williams scored four points and five assists in 22 minutes, but was not looked upon by Coach Hollins during crunch time. With Williams rested, will he play more minutes tonight?
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at Indianapolis, Indiana.