clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pacers come up short late against Nets, drop 1 1/2 games out of playoffs

Indiana lost to Brooklyn 111-106 despite 28 points from George Hill, as they lose valuable ground on their playoff race.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

If the Indiana Pacers are in the playoffs already, they dropped Game 1 of their four game series against the teams they're directly fighting for in the standings. This "playoff series" will go a long way for Indiana in determining whether or not they'll reach the real postseason, though after a frustrating loss to the Brooklyn Nets, it appears Indiana's 0-1 hole is not simply an outlier.

The Pacers started great against the Nets, opening up a 7-0 lead and forcing the first timeout of the game, but after the quick start, the Nets responded by outscoring Indiana 33-8 to close out the first quarter. Indiana is no stranger to slow starts, but neither is Indiana's bench a stranger to mounting comebacks. Indiana got a big lift in the second quarter from their second unit, flipping the script from a 15-point first quarter to a season high 39 points in the second.

Damjan Rudez hit three threes to score 11 in the quarter, bringing Indiana all the way back, taking a 54-52 lead with 50 seconds left in the half. In those 50 seconds, however, Brooklyn went on a 5-0 run to head into the break up three. George Hill led Indiana in the third quarter, giving them 12 points, but despite a back-and-forth battle with Brooklyn, the Pacers once again gave up four points in the final minutes, taking a one point deficit up to five, costing Indiana a third quarter victory.

The four point run to end the third ballooned to eight total for Brooklyn as they jumped ahead 88-79 early in the fourth. Indiana responded with a Luis Scola bucket on the following possession, but despite stringing together a rare series of stops, the Pacers missed their next four straight shots. The Pacers would trim the lead to five, but saw it move into double figures with a 7-0 Nets run.

Indiana went on a 10-3 run to trim the lead to five, but frustrations over lack of calls turned a technical foul into the third three point play of the quarter for Brooklyn, forcing Indiana into an eight point hole. David West worked his way to the line to help cut the lead to three, but Brooklyn kept the heat turned up, getting a big time bucket from Joe Johnson.

Indiana had two opportunities in the final minute to cut the lead to a single possession, but after a George Hill miss, he hesitated pulling up another three on the following possession, giving Brooklyn just enough time to recover. Hill was unable to make a move with the ball, eventually passing to a wide open Roy Hibbert with the shot clock winding down.

Hibbert was open for a reason as he was standing behind the three point arc, his bail out heave having no shot of giving Indiana an answer to a prayer. Johnson would sink the dagger on the other end from the corner with a three of his own, as the Nets closed out Indiana late to win 111-106. As has been the common theme in Indiana's struggles lately, they performed well enough offensively, shooting 45% and hitting 12 of 23 three point attempts, but gave up a ghastly 50% and 111 points.

In no quarter did Brooklyn score less than 24 points, with big final minutes in the second and third quarter attributing to a crucial 9-0 advantage. While Brooklyn scored an additional 11 to open the first, it was the way the Nets were able to recover after being staggered by Indiana in the second and third quarters that helped push them into a comfortable situation late in the game.

George Hill had 28, but made up nearly half of Indiana's starting lineup point totals, with the remaining starters totaling just 30 points. This included 14 from David West, who went scoreless in the first half, and C.J. Miles, who hurt his ankle early in the game and totaled just six minutes, scoring zero. Solomon Hill had a trio of threes for his nine, and Roy HIbbert had seven on 3-11 shooting.

The Pacers bench scored 39 of Indiana's 54 first half points, but had just nine second half points total, watching Alan Anderson score 13 of his 20 and Jarrett Jack score 11 of his 13 in the second half. Damjan Rudez was a big boost in the second quarter, scoring 10, but was a non-factor in the entire second half, a not uncommon theme for the bench with Rodney Stuckey also crashing down to earth, scoring three points on 1-8 shooting.

Indiana falls 1 1/2 games out of playoff contention, two games behind 8th place Brooklyn in the loss column. While the Pacers theoretically have enough time with eight games remaining to decide their own fate as far as the postseason is concerned, losing a crucial tiebreaking opportunity to the Nets could also be the first domino in the Pacers playing themselves directly into the lottery.

The Pacers will travel to Boston for Game 2 of their pre-playoffs playoff series, sitting one game back of the Celtics and trailing 2-1 in the head-to-head series.