The Indiana Pacers needed an extra five, but were able to finish off another comeback victory, topping the Brooklyn Nets at home. The Pacers once again got off to a slow start, while allowing the Nets to control the game in the first half. Brooklyn hit eight first half three pointers, four from Spencer Dinwiddie, to build a 19-point lead with just under two minutes left in the half.
The Pacers had stumbled to just 35 points at that point in the game, allowing their poor offense to be coupled with porous defense, which created an uphill climb against a Nets team that was fresh off a blowout win over Washington. The Pacers appeared to sense the urgency after falling behind by 19, showing signs of life with a 6-3 run to close the half, including a big dunk from Domantas Sabonis.
All hands were on deck out of the break, with the Pacers kickstarting the half on a 13-2 run to trim the lead to five. The Nets responded to push the lead back to nine, but Indiana responded with another 13-2 run to put them in the lead for the first time since the start of the game.
The lead was short lived, however, as the theme of the game became one of “no lead is safe,” with both teams trading punches into the early stages of the fourth. The Pacers appeared to find themselves in control of the game with an 11-0 run capped by a Lance Stephenson steal/layup/and-one/dance that pushed Indiana’s lead to nine.
That push didn’t prove to be enough for the Pacers, with Brooklyn trimming an eight point deficit to two in about 30 seconds with a Allen Crabbe four point play and DeMarre Carroll three that put the Nets back in the game. Missed free throws late proved fatal for the Pacers when Cory Joseph was hit with a tough foul on a three point play that allowed the Nets to tie the game with 19 seconds remaining.
In those final 19 seconds, Victor Oladipo pounded the air out of the ball and missed a game winning three attempt, sending the game to overtime. Oladipo would have an absolutely stellar game considering he was just 2-8 from three point range, but it was a shot reminiscent of recent teams and former players, not this one. In that sense, seeing it go awry was disappointing, but with the Nets on the second night of a back-to-back, the Pacers seemed content with closing the game in overtime.
Even there it wasn’t an easy go. Twice the Pacers built a three point lead, and twice the Nets drilled threes to tie the game up. Missed free throw continued to contribute to this, but in the extra period, it was Oladipo that steadied the ship in regards to their free throw shooting, going 6-6 in overtime, icing the game after a Dinwiddie miss from three.
Oladipo finished with a game high 38 points, 25 of those coming in the second half. He finished 13-23 shooting and a perfect 10-10 from the line, again, a fantastic showing despite the fact six of those misses came from three point range. Oladipo had six assists and four rebounds.
He was helped by Myles Turner, who scored 23 points on 8-10 shooting. Turner had three of Indiana’s 10 threes on the night to go with nine rebounds and a career-tying six blocks. Turner was a big part of Indiana’s comeback attempt, scoring 13 in the third quarter.
Four of those buckets came on Darren Collison assists. Collison had six of his nine assists after the Pacers had fallen behind by 19 and found Bojan Bogdanovic for a big three in overtime. Bogdanovic had 17 on the night, but struggled with three point shooting before hitting a pair in the fourth and in overtime.
Lance Stephenson reached double figures as well with 11 points with four rebounds despite shooting just 4-12 from the floor. Two of his rebounds were on the offensive end, with him, Turner, and T.J. Leaf combining for all seven of their offensive boards. Rebounding proved a big issue for the Pacers, with the Nets holding a 18-7 advantage on the offensive glass.
That was a big reason for the Nets being able to stay in the game, outscoring the Pacers 15-5 off of offensive rebounds, including four key points late that kept Brooklyn alive late. The Pacers made up for this disadvantage by getting out and running off of the rebounds they did get, outscoring the Nets 18-6 in fast break opportunities.
Yet again, the Pacers had to play from behind thanks to a slow start, which may become a concern if they can’t find themselves in games late despite these early struggles. That these keep happening (at home no less) is a concern in and of itself, but it shows the fight this team plays with every single night to still find themselves in a position to win late.
Ultimately the Pacers gave fans a win for Christmas, which moves them to 19-14 on the year. They’re currently in fourth, a half game up on the Detroit Pistons, the team they wrap up their season series with on Tuesday. Down 1-2 in the series, this will be a key game if these two teams continue to hover around the four spot in the East if the Pacers hope to hold the tiebreaker over Detroit at season’s end.