Victor Oladipo took his share of the blame for losses in the Pacers previous two games. But in Brooklyn on Friday night, Oladipo threw the team on his back with a late scoring flourish that delivered a 114-106 win over the Nets.
The Pacers started the game strong, but the Nets rallied behind a variety of defensive looks, including heavy doses of zone defense, which knocked the Pacers out of sync. After a big third quarter for Brooklyn, the Nets and Pacers swapped the lead throughout the second half, but the Nets seemed to have the winning momentum along with a 100-98 lead with four minutes left in the game.
Then the Pacers All-Star rose up and altered the game. He found his way to the line to make four consecutive free throws, then hit a mid-range jumper. While Vic had that look, he made his intentions to destroy the Nets fully known the next time down. Driving off a screen to his left, it appeared VO was flying in for a left-handed scoop layup.
Nope. Instead, Vic kept the ball high and threw it down in stunning fashion.
Not only was the play a big momentum boost for the Pacers, it also gave them the lead, again. This time, they would not let it go.
In fact, it became a technical knockout. After the dunk, the Nets turned it over and Bojan Bogdanovic cashed in the donation with a three-pointer. Then Myles Turner denied Spencer Dinwiddie which lead to a foul on Darren Collison at the other end.
That was more than Nets’ coach Kenny Atkinson could take and he quickly earned the boot. Vic eventually iced the game with a smooth, step-back 3-ball.
The Pacers avoid their third consecutive loss and snapped the Nets’ seven-game winning streak.
Thoughts and observations:
- Oladipo scored 14 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. 11 of those 14 points were scored in the final 3:31 of the game.
- Adding to the sweet redemption of this finish for Oladipo, the Pacers had the ball up 5 with a minute left in the game. Vic slowly brought the ball up, but unlike at Toronto in a similar situation, not too slowly, clearing the midcourt line under eight seconds.
- The Pacers had to deal with the 2-3 zone looks for the fourth consecutive game. They will likely see more at this rate. While the Pacers seem to get plenty of good open looks, the defense throws them out of sync and a lot of those looks are stand-still jumpers not shot in rhythm. Only developing confidence in their reads and what they expect to do with the ball will help end the madness.
- The Pacers did have a solid first half, in large part, thanks to only turning the ball over three times which gave Brooklyn three points. Assistant coach Bill Bayno mentioned at halftime on TV that the Pacers had to continue taking care of the ball. The message didn’t sink in, the Pacers had nine turnovers in the second half which helped the Nets get their offense going.
- Myles Turner had his third consecutive double-double, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds. He also swatted 5 shots, altered a few more and continues to defend the rim at an elite level. In the first half, Joe Harris was able to get Turner off balance a bit with a ball fake, and score over him. It was odd to see a shot not get swatted with Turner in the area.
- Thad Young scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half, taking advantage of the Nets early switching defense which often left Thad open. That defensive strategy would change which turned the game in the Nets favor.
- Atkinson lost it late, but the Nets both on the floor and bench did a ton of complaining about the officiating during the game. This despite the fact that the Pacers had more fouls (26 to 23) and the Nets shot far more free throws (34 to 18) for the game.
- The Nets made 16 of 31 threes on the night which kept that lead going back and forth in the second half. Rodions Kurucs was extremely impressive, making four of five threes while also attacking the paint and earning free throws in the process to lead the Nets with 24 points. The Nets have a strong group that really competes.
- The Pacers return home to play the Wizards on Sunday evening at 5 p.m. ET.