After a tough night on the road a night ago, the Indiana Pacers bounced back in a big way to top the Brooklyn Nets at home. The Pacers didn’t appear to have any ill-effects on the second night of a back-to-back, putting forth their best offensive performance of the young season, which included 65 second half points.
In fact, neither team appeared to be weighed down by the circumstances, at least in the first half. The Nets, coming off a win last night, tortured the Pacers throughout the first half by hitting 11 three pointers. That helped the Nets to jump ahead 56-53 with just over four minutes in the second quarter on back-to-back D’Angelo Russell threes.
At that point, the Pacers flipped the script, forcing stops defensively and feeding off of Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner to close the half on a 14-2 run. In the second half, the Pacers maintained a double digit lead, but kept the door open for the Nets. That was until the early stages of the fourth when the Pacers blitzed the Nets with a game-sealing 22-4 run, wrapping up a 132-112 victory.
If the second night of a back-to-back caught up to one of the teams, it was the Nets, who struggled to contain the Pacers at really any point in the game, but couldn’t keep pace in the second half offensively. The Pacers scored 67 in the first and 65 in the second, including 37 in the fourth quarter.
That fourth quarter was fueled in a big way by Indiana’s third string center Kyle O’Quinn. O’Quinn was given an expanded role after it was confirmed Domantas Sabonis would be out with a bruised right knee. O’Quinn stepped in and did exactly what he was brought in to do; keep Indiana from experiencing a dropoff even without one of their key rotation players.
O’Quinn started slow statistically, but was still brought high level energy that flourished into a 14-point fourth quarter, feasting on the midrange to go with eight rebounds (five offensive) and a pair of blocks. With Sabonis being day-to-day, potentially leaning heavily on the “-to-day” portion, this makes O’Quinn an invaluable fail-safe to protect Indiana’s depth.
O’Quinn’s 16 led another fantastic bench effort with all four players reaching double figures. The bench finished with 55 points, including a 15-point night from Tyreke Evans. Evans found success in all areas of the game, attacking the rim at will, dishing a pair of assists, picking up three steals and a block and having zero turnovers.
All in all, the Pacers were finally able to keep the turnovers from mounting, committing just 11 on the night. They forced the Nets into 20 turnovers, leading to 30 points for the Pacers. That was largely fueled by 12 Indiana steals, led by Oladipo, who had his first steals of the season, finishing with four, including one leading to a breakaway highlight jam.
Oladipo had his best all-around game of year, scoring a game high 25 points on 10-20 shooting, pulling in seven rebounds to go with three assists and his four steals. The only downside of the game happened to be Indiana’s biggest liability through three games: free throw shooting.
Oladipo finished a woeful 2-6 from the line, including missing two at the end of the first half when fouled on a buzzer beating three point attempt. Neither of the first two attempts looked even remotely close, which went along with the Pacers shooting just 14-22 on the night. The Pacers exited the game last in the league in free throw shooting, with O’Quinn the only remaining Pacer to be perfect through three games at 6-6.
Poor free throw shooting didn’t take away from everyone in the starting lineup reaching double figures, including a bit of a breakout game from Darren Collison. Collison has struggled in the early goings, but posted a season high of 13, hitting his first two threes of the season.
The first three came just over two minutes into the game and proved to be a weight off the shoulders of the Pacers after getting the doors beat off them in the three point game against Milwaukee. Indiana doubled their output from behind the arc in one game, finishing 16-24 on the night.
For a while, it seemed as if even a solid night from three point range wouldn’t be enough. The Pacers started 7-9, but still struggled to find any distance between them and the Nets, who had hit nine by that point in the game. However, both teams finished with 16, the Pacers getting there in 13 less attempts.
Doug McDermott may have found something in the lost last night, carrying over his hot shooting from last night to finish 4-5 from deep for 12 points. That success was mirrored by Bojan Bogdanovic, who bounced back from an 0-fer last night with a 15-point outing, hitting all three of his threes.
O’Quinn wasn’t alone in the front court in terms of finding success, Thaddeus Young finished with 10 on 5-9 shooting and Myles Turner completed his best game of the season with 14 points and eight rebounds. Turner hit his first three of the season and finished 5-6 from the line, winning the battle with fellow Longhorn Jarrett Allen.
The win moves the Pacers to 2-0 at home on the season, winning by an average of 24 points in the two games. Success at home will be especially important in the early stages of the season with five of their next six games coming on the road. That begins with a three game trip starting with a matchup against the drama-fueled Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.