The Indiana Pacers came out on the right side of a back-and-forth affair with the Brooklyn Nets, holding on late to complete the season sweep against Brooklyn and to win their third straight game overall.
The Nets have played the Pacers tough in every matchup this year and this was no different. The lead changed hands 29 times in tonight’s game, with both teams seizing whatever temporary momentum they could find to futilely take control of the game. The Pacers appeared to do so in the late stages of the third quarter, using a 13-2 run to go up by eight.
Indiana had the ball with a chance to go up double figures, but a miss sent the Nets the other way, allowing Brooklyn to run of 13 straight points to eventually lead by six at the end of the third. The Pacers fought back in the fourth, but an inability to get stops again kept Indiana from seizing the win.
With the game reaching its final three minutes, Indiana scored six straight points to go up four, with Victor Oladipo hitting a crucial layup with under a minute to go to help seal the game. While the Pacers were able to get the win late thanks to a solid night from the line (24-28), the game was almost decided on the gap in three point shots, with Brooklyn hitting 13 while Indiana had just six on 15 attempts.
The Pacers also won the rebounding battle in tonight’s game, outrebounding Brooklyn by eight in a performance that felt incredibly misleading. Despite the advantage on the glass (including a 15-9 edge in offensive rebounding), it continually felt like it was rebounding that was letting the Pacers down. That was in part due to the 14 points the Pacers allowed off of rebounds, edging the Nets slightly with 16.
Indiana was led on the glass by Myles Turner, who had 14 on the night to go with 11 points in a double double effort. All five Pacers starters reached double figures, led by a Victor Oladipo with a hard fought 25. Oladipo’s 9-24 shooting night was indicative of Indiana’s relatively poor shooting night at just 43%, thought he did come up with a game high three steals.
The Pacers had 10 steals as a team vs. just four for the Nets, but what it most accomplished was forcing the Nets into a turnover as the Pacers could only outscore Brooklyn 8-7 off of those steals. It was the kind of night where the Pacers had to figure out how to best will themselves to a victory when the little things they’d relied on weren’t as potent as they have been in other wins.
Cory Joseph’s shooting has been a real struggle of late, but he had a much better relative outing tonight with 15 points on 5-12 shooting to go with a career high 11 rebounds, becoming the second double double of Joseph’s career. Joseph’s play hasn’t been consistent, but has been solid in making plays, coming up with a pair of steals tonight.
Joseph was joined in double figures by both Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young with 14 and 13 respectively. Neither shot 50%, in fact not a single Pacer shot above 50% for the game outside of Al Jefferson, who put his old school moves to work for a 13 point performance.
Jefferson hit his first six shots while simultaneously putting rookie Jarrett Allen through class, baiting Allen into a pump fake dunk.
The win moved the Pacers to 33-25, putting them eight games over .500 in four years, sending them into the All-Star break on a high note. While Young laments the timing of the All-Star break with the team’s rhythm, the Pacers are set to open their post All-Star schedule against the Atlanta Hawks on February 23, followed by games against Dallas and Atlanta again.
In the meantime, the Pacers will be well-represented in All-Star Weekend which will kick off Friday with Domantas Sabonis playing for the World Team in the Rising Stars Game. Oladipo will then look to defend Glenn Robinson III’s dunk contest crown on Saturday night with Oladipo then taking place in the showcase All-Star Game on Sunday.