The Indiana Pacers extended their winning streak to four games by defeating the Brooklyn Nets at home. The Pacers jumped ahead by double figures early, but a steady barrage of three pointers from the Nets allowed them to close the gap and take the lead in the second quarter, but an 8-0 run to close the half pushed Indiana ahead for good.
The Nets finished 17-38 from beyond the arc, which explains how Brooklyn was able to not only take the lead in the first half, but bring a 22-point third quarter deficit into single digits. Despite the Pacers shooting an efficient 10-22, the three point shot proved an efficient equalizer for Brooklyn, but the fluidity of the Indiana offense was once again on display, allowing them to maintain and build upon their leads.
Unsurprisingly, the fluidity of the offense came from ball movement, led by Jeff Teague, who had 15 assists. Teague has averaged 12.3 assists during this winning streak, giving the Pacers a wrinkle they haven’t had since the days of Jamaal Tinsley: a true point guard.
Teague had 10 assists alone in the 12-minute stretch from the end of the second to help the Pacers outscore Brooklyn 46-25. Teague also scored with ease, putting up 21 points on 9-13 shooting and a pair of threes while bringing in all seven of his rebounds in the third quarter.
Teague was one of three 20-point scorers for the Pacers, led by Paul George who had 26 and three steals. The Indiana starting lineup was so on point tonight that it allowed George to focus on simply playing. George went 10-18 from the field, scored throughout the night, including four huge points to close out the game in the fourth.
Myles Turner also had a big night, scoring 25 points while anchoring the rim protection with five blocks and controlling the glass with 15 rebounds (including a trio of offensive rebounds). Turner continues to make the difficult look easy, shooting 9-15 and hitting both of his three point attempts.
Thaddeus Young struggled shooting, but came up with six rebounds and hit the easy looks to score 10. Taking advantage of the offense benefited Glenn Robinson III as well, as he scored eight points. Both had six rebounds with Young sending away a pair of blocks and Robinson coming up with a steal.
The one downside for the game was the general play of the bench. Aaron Brooks scored nine points (including a buzzer beater three at the end of the first quarter), Kevin Seraphin scored eight points (getting six points off of Teague assists), and C.J. Miles also scored eight with a pair of threes to start the fourth, but overall the story of the game can be found in the sizable +/- gap between the starters and reserves.
The Nets were able to climb back every time against the Indiana second unit in time for the starters to come back and push the lead back into double figures. The Nets had three double figure scorers off the bench while Indiana had zero. As much as Teague gave the ease of offense a boost, the lack of playmaking was evident in the second unit, which doesn’t figure to get much better without big individual nights especially with a Brooks/Monta Ellis backcourt where the ball can easily get stuck.
However, there are still enough options off the bench to believe there’s a chance for someone to come up with a double figure night, but it still comes down to effort for the Pacers. A free flowing offense has been a reality during this win streak and as teams like Golden State can attest, effort can be manufactured when there’s involvement from all corners of an offense.
Indiana will have a chance to push their win streak to five ahead of their trip to London next week as they host the New York Knicks on Saturday. After closing out the Pacers on December 20th, the Knicks have gone just 1-6 since and are currently riding a six game losing streak. They’ll enter Saturday’s game on a second night of a back-to-back.