The Nets (9-18) lost to the Indiana Pacers (23-5) tonight by a score of 103-86.
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Brooklyn boy Lance Stephenson – who was a legend at Abraham Lincoln H.S. in Coney Island – poured in 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists. After a bit of a slow start, Paul George found his stroke, tallying 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting, and he had six rebounds and five assists.
Indiana dominated the boards (46-36) and held the Nets to 38 percent shooting on 29-of-76 field goal attempts. Brooklyn started the game 7-of-11 from the field but finished by connecting on just 22 of its next 65 shots.
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 17 points. Kevin Garnett, starting at center in place of the injured Brook Lopez, cracked double figures with 12 points but only shot 3-of-10 from the field.
Jim MancariThis was shaping up to be a tough matchup for the Nets in the first game without Lopez, but after a decent first half, this wound up being another painful loss. Brooklyn is now 2-8 this season in games without Lopez.
The Nets’ defense held up for the most part until the dreaded third quarter. The Pacers meanwhile continued to show that they have the NBA’s best defense, allowing only 89.4 per game en route to their best start in franchise history.
Indiana has now defeated the Nets in both of their matchups at Barclays Center this season. Last season, the Nets swept the Pacers.
Between Deron Williams and Paul Pierce, the duo only managed to shoot 3-of-16 for a combined nine points. Pierce was ejected midway through the third quarter for a flagrant foul, and it was his first scoreless game since March, 1999. He had averaged 25.5 points in his last two contests.
To add insult to injury, Williams came up limping in garbage time of the fourth quarter. What else can go wrong for Brooklyn?
As for Garnett at the five, he missed way too many close range shots. He’s known to be able to stretch the floor, but if he’s going to play center, he has to finish in the paint.
It was at least nice to see Jason Terry return, and he scored 11 points and hit three three-pointers off the bench. He hadn’t played since Nov. 20 after dealing with a knee injury, but maybe his presence can spark a team in desperate need of a spark.
Brooklyn really needed to play a mistake free game, and the team just isn’t there yet. A win over the Pacers would have been a nice distraction to the Lopez news, but like it’s gone all season, the team just can’t catch a break.
The Nets will be back in action in the first of five NBA Christmas Day games as they host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. Tip is set for 12:00 PM.